Boston Globe Media’s life-sciences site, Stat, makes its debut

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 8.30.03 PM

Stat, a long-in-the-making website covering health and life sciences, debuts today. The site, which employs nearly 40 journalists, is part of The Boston Globe’s media properties and is based mainly at the paper’s headquarters at 135 Morrissey Blvd.

The news was embargoed until midnight.

On Tuesday afternoon I had a chance to interview Stat’s executive editor, Rick Berke, and two of his top deputies. Look for my report around mid-morning Wednesday at WGBHNews.org. Below is a press release from Boston Globe Media Partners.

John Henry and Rick Berke Launch Stat

A Publication Dedicated to Health, Medicine and Life Sciences

November 4, 2015 — Boston — John W. Henry, owner of The Boston Globe and principal owner of the Boston Red Sox, and longtime reporter and editor Rick Berke today launched Stat, a national publication reporting from the frontiers of health, medicine and life sciences. The publication has assembled a news team of nearly 40 top journalists, as well as an engineering team, an advertising team, and a marketing team.

Delivering fast, deep and tough-minded journalism, Stat will take readers inside science labs and hospitals, biotech boardrooms and political backrooms. It will publish breaking news, richly reported feature stories, investigative projects and multimedia presentations throughout the day at Statnews.com.

“Over the next 20 years, some of the most important stories in the world are going to emerge in the life sciences arena. Stat has a tremendous opportunity to uncover vital issues that touch the lives of every human being,” Henry said. “We realized that there was no one doing what we aim to do: be the country’s go-to news source for the life sciences.”

Stat is headquartered in Boston, with additional reporters in New York, San Francisco and Washington, and more to follow in other cities around the world.

“I’m grateful to have the opportunity to hire dozens of the most talented reporters, writers and multimedia phenoms in the country to join our quest to create a news site with stories you won’t find anywhere else,” said Berke, a former assistant managing editor at The New York Times and executive editor at Politico. “We will take readers behind the scenes of the worlds of science and medicine and introduce them to patients and personalities who are driving a revolution in human health.”

Stat reporters have wasted no time breaking news even before today’s launch. Initial stories, published through its sister publication, The Boston Globe, included an exclusive on Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders rejecting a campaign donation from price-hiking pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli; a scoop on President Obama’s nominee to head the Food and Drug Administration pulling his name off several scientific papers that were critical of the agency; a fascinating deep dive into clinical trials in the age of social media; and an important examination of the shortcomings of precision medicine. Stat has also launched a fast-paced email newsletter, “Morning Rounds,” which has quickly become a must-read.

The Stat editing team is led by three accomplished journalists: The managing editor for news, Stephanie Simon, has been a national reporter for The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, and, most recently, Politico. The managing editor for enterprise, Gideon Gil, was the Boston Globe’s health and science editor. Jason Ukman, the senior news editor, was an editor at the Washington Post for 14 years. Gil and Ukman played important roles in editing Pulitzer Prize-winning stories for their organizations.

Stat has developed a sleek website with an emphasis on its mobile version. It has also built out an extensive multimedia unit including animators, a data visualization editor and videographers. Led by New York Times veterans Jeffery DelViscio and Matthew Orr, the team will bring stories to visual life, creating everything from short, social-media-focused video explainers to mini-documentaries to interactive reader experiences.

A strong lineup of regular features is also in the works:

  • Carl Zimmer, Stat national correspondent and a New York Times columnist, will host a monthly video feature called “Science Happens” that will take viewers inside laboratories conducting cutting-edge biomedical research.
  • Veteran pharmaceutical industry reporter Ed Silverman will revive his blog Pharmalot, last at The Wall Street Journal, and will write a weekly column.
  • Sharon Begley, a nationally renowned science writer and formerly an editor at Newsweek, will puncture myths and question conventional wisdom in her column “Gut Check.”
  • Stat will conduct monthly nationwide polling on health and medicine issues in partnership with Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
  • In a new biweekly podcast, “Signal,” leading biotech reporters Meg Tirrell of CNBC and Luke Timmerman of the Timmerman Report will deliver a high-energy mix of news analysis, feature stories and interviews with movers and shakers in the biotech industry.
  • A section called “First Opinion,” overseen by Patrick Skerrett, previously executive editor for Harvard Health Publications, will feature science, medical and financial experts weighing in on the news of the day.
  • Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus, of the popular site “Retraction Watch,” will write “The Watchdogs,” focusing on issues of misconduct, fraud and scientific integrity.

In addition, the reporting staff includes former Politico reporter David Nather, a health policy expert who will lead the Stat Washington bureau; Helen Branswell, a renowned global health reporter who comes from The Canadian Press; enterprise reporter David Armstrong, who covered health care on the projects team for Bloomberg News and The Wall Street Journal; senior writer Bob Tedeschi, a longtime New York Times columnist who will write about patients and clinicians; Charles Piller, an award-winning investigative reporter for The Sacramento Bee and The Los Angeles Times; and Seth Mnookin, a contributing writer and prominent author.

Other editors include Elie Dolgin, PhD in evolutionary genetics who was previously an associate editor at The Scientist and senior news editor at Nature Medicine; Lisa Raffensperger, a former web editor at Discover Magazine; and Tony Fong, previously a senior editor at GenomeWeb.

Chief Revenue Officer Angus Macaulay, a veteran executive of publishing companies including Rodale, Hearst Magazines and Time, Inc., leads the business team. Michele Staats, the former head of integrated marketing at Massachusetts General Hospital, is the marketing director at Stat. Peter Bless, a 16-year veteran of scientific and healthcare advertising, is sales director.

For more information please go to Statnews.com, or visit us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Statnews, or Twitter: https://twitter.com/Statnews.

3 thoughts on “Boston Globe Media’s life-sciences site, Stat, makes its debut

  1. Tom Stites

    Perhaps this is a failure of my imagination, but I can’t see where the revenue will come from to cover this vast payroll. The content clearly comes closer to trade journalism than consumer journalism, and I confess that this is a world I don’t know very well. Medical professionals tend to have high incomes, so will Stat go after high-end consumer ads — Mercedes Benz and Rolex — or after pharmaceutical companies? Anyway, I’m dubious. I just hope this doesn’t turn out to be another of those sad build-it-and-then-tear-it-down exercises.

    1. Peter Sullivan

      I would guess the idea is that you can tap into some good categories of advertisers, that have fallen off pretty dramatically in print. hospitals, health insurance companies, pharmaceuticals… I think a lot better of potential advertisers that CRUX, which still seems to be pretty barren of any real ad dollars… What surprised me is that they put out the premier issue of Stat with zero ads at all… I I can’t really figure out the business model of these stand alone products…

  2. mike benedict

    Even though there are many examples of successful micro publications, I don’t see this one succeeding, for a number of reasons.

    1. An uncertain market for readers. Those in the industry barely have time to keep up with professional publications. And they are institutionally suspect of non-insiders’ opinions of their respective fields. For instance: The Globe story on surgeons running concurrent operations at once was roundly either dismissed by doctors of all stripes as a complete joke — surgery is the highest revenue and highest profit center, and in an era where physicians’ insurance reimbursements are being cut every year they need the revenue that surgeries bring even more ever; dismissed as hypocritical in an era where there is broad demand for lower costs and greater efficiency (i.e., concurrent operations ); or with disgust that it happens but no one inside is going to do anything about it. What they agree on is that reform will come from within, not outside, the industry, and pressure from third parties only intensifies the resistance.

    Those outside the industry already have enough established sources to rely on. Some are “dumber” (Time, e.g.,) than others, but most casual readers just want the gist of it, not all the methodology.

    2. The cost structure is too high. Established, technical journalists don’t come cheap. Stat didn’t hire rookies. Successful (if not very profitable) niche publications like Baseball Prospectus, which also go after a higher educated and informed audience, rely on what amounts to very nearly free labor.

    3. The name, while an insider joke (as in rush), sounds too much like “Stats,” which to the non-insider says “math.” Good luck with that.

Comments are closed.