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The Washington Post's newsroom is in an uproar today after the political news website Politico.com broke a shocking story:

"For $25,000 to $250,000, The Washington Post has offered lobbyists and association executives off-the-record, nonconfrontational access to "those powerful few": Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and - at first - even the paper's own reporters and editors."

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Walt Bogdanich, three-time Pulitzer-winning New York Times reporter, has written a phenomenal story about cancer care at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Philadelphia and tapped into a rich source of material for medical writers: the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

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This UCI orthopedic surgeon is on the shortlist for the U.S. Surgeon General job. He has been an outspoken critic of medical device companies and is fighting to limit the influence of money on medicine.

Here is a recap of our conversation:

Q: You were in Washington last year testifying before Congress about doctors who are paid by companies to put in certain medical devices. Did they understand why you were so concerned about this?

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Margo Wootan is director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, or CSPI, a leading consumer advocacy organization that specializes in food, nutrition and public health issues. She co-founded and coordinates the activities of the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA), a coalition of national, state and local organizations. She is a member of the National 5 A Day Partnership steering committee and co-chairs the Policy Subcommittee for the Partnership.

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Len Nichols, a highly respected healthcare economist, is the director of the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics at George Mason University. Previously he directed the Health Policy Program at the New America Foundation, which aimed to expand health insurance coverage to all Americans while reining in costs and improving the efficiency of the overall health care system. Before joining New America, Dr.

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Karen Pollitz is a Research Professor at the Health Policy Institute at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. There she directs research on health insurance reform issues as they affect consumers and patients. Her areas of focus include regulation of private health insurance plans and markets, managed care consumer protections, and access to affordable health insurance. She is also an adjunct professor in Georgetown's Graduate Public Policy School.

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Dr. Kammen brings to the analysis of national and international energy policy an understanding of the technology as well as of the economics and the policy landscape. He sees value in greater emphasis on renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power and biomass, not only because it is better for the environment, but also because it would improve our nation's security by lessening reliance on imported oil. Renewables also would produce more jobs than an equivalent investment in fossil fuel energy sources, according to a recent study by Kammen.

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The USC Center for Health Journalism at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is seeking two Engagement Editors to serve as thought leaders in one of the most innovative and rewarding arenas in journalism today – “engaged reporting” that puts the community at the center of the reporting process. Learn more about the positions and apply to join our team.

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