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Facts first, please

January 16, 2006 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 84, ISSUE 3

I have been retired now for 10 years, but I have been doing some consulting for a variety of companies. The technical information that I get from C&EN is important to me because it helps me keep up on the general events that are happening in our society, in the chemical industry, in research developments, and in government regulations.

The priorities in two recent issues of C&EN have given me pause.

In the Oct. 31, 2005, issue, page 21, there is a report called "Activists oppose DOE plan for plutonium." I do think that this is news, but I would rather read about what the Department of Energy is actually doing so that I can make a judgment about the validity of the "activists."

As a chemist with long experience, I want to have the facts and make my own decision about whether the opposition reported here is valid. Reporting that there is opposition to some act is not, in and of itself, news.

Also in the Oct. 31 issue, page 22, there is a very good article on the planned changes for the right-to-know law. The comments from environmental groups are given in the fifth paragraph, before any mention of a company representative in the seventh paragraph.

In the Nov. 7, 2005, issue, page 9, the talk by President Bush announcing his strategy for avoiding a flu pandemic is reported. In the fifth paragraph is a reference to a comment by an advocacy group. Their comment adds nothing to the importance of the President's speech.

I just ask myself why the comments by the environmental groups are given space before the comments by scientists or business representatives. As a scientist, why should I care more for such groups than about what scientists or businesspeople think?

From my perspective, I want you to provide me with the following:

◾ What the facts are.
◾ What scientists think about the situation. These can be scientists in business.
◾ What others with an interest think about the situation. This should be present, but not a prime position, and certainly not the only point of the article.

Leonard O. Moore
Menominee, Mich.



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