Must Read: NYT Series on Radiation Poisoning


A fascinating series on new radiation treatments for cancer patients by New York Times reporter Walt Bogdanich caught my eye for two reasons.

First, because he bases his reporting–showing that there have been hundreds of people injured, some fatally, by these new technologies, even as so many are also saved–in part by wresting accident report and other records from federal, state, and city government sources. In other words, via government data.

And second, because the week before his first story appeared, my mother underwent such treatment for a benign brain tumor, a meningioma, that was growing back nearly 15 years after she had it surgically removed. My mother thankfully so far shows no ill effects from that treatment, which I’m thankful exists. We’ll find out in some months’ time whether it successfully arrested the tumor.  However, I would certainly have welcomed a way to look up, online, and in real time, any and all records pertaining to her hospital and its record in using this advanced technology to deliver radiation to patients.

Bogdanich’s series is a great example of what a skilled investigative journalist can do with a combination of data and old-fashioned reporting and interviewing techniques. But it’s a travesty that it was such hard work to get the data from various government entitites that provides the backbone for this series.