New investigative network emerges as consumers seek food news

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Interestingly enough, Sam Fromartz and I entered the world of journalism at similar places – the bottom. In the early 70’s I was one of several newly-minted college graduates who shared a single desk at the CBS Network Radio newsroom in downtown Manhattan. We ran for coffee and answered phones. And every few minutes, we’d scatter to gather wire copy from the dozen constantly clacking teletype machines that connected us to news bureaus all over the world. Yes, we were grunts, but we were grunts who chatted with the likes of Dallas Townsend (cigarette behind his ear), Dan Rather, and Christopher Glenn. We watched in awe as they tapped out stories for the top-of-the-hour news casts.

Man, that was a loooong time ago. And that’s where any semblance between my career and that of Sam Fromartz ends. In this Deep Roots Radio interview, Sam modestly states that he started out just a step up from sweeping floors, but his career since then has served to bring him to his present position – Editor in Chief of the Food and Environment Reporting Network (FERN).

Sam was with the Reuters news agency, and served as its deputy business editor in New York. He’s contributed to Inc., Fortune, Business Week, the New York Times, The Washington Post, and other publications. He is the author of Organic Inc.: NaturalFoods and How They Grew (Harcourt, 2006), and writes the ChewsWise blog.

FERN is an independent, nonprofit news organization that produces investigative reports on food, agriculture and environmental health. In its first year, FERN has supported the work of reporters who took weeks and months to unearth and document stories about agricultural water pollution, and the use of controversial growth substances in the pork industry. This is expensive work at a time when budget pressures have forced massive job cuts in newsrooms everywhere. And this at a time when consumer concern about what’s in their food is increasing. Fortunately, more FERN stories are in the works.

According to their website, the FERN’s highly trained and experienced reporters are committed to rigorously practiced journalism to reveal “corruption, abuse of power, and exploitation wherever it happens; to expose activities and subjects that the powerful work to keep hidden or which are simply overlooked by major media; and to give voice to the voiceless.”

I hope you enjoy this chat with Sam Fromartz. For more information, visit www.thefern.org. [Audio below]