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Mark Katches is the deputy managing editor for projects at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He leads a team of reporters who have been watch-dogging the use of chemicals in food containers and other products for the past two years.

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Anyone who has helped a friend or family member undergo cancer treatment knows the fear and frustration that can consume a patient's life. There are new, experimental treatments being touted every year, many of them only available outside of the United States.

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John Carey, a 20-year veteran at BusinessWeek, wrote a story that set the pharmaceutical world on its ear in January 2008. Titled "Do Cholesterol Drugs Do Any Good?," the article systematically broke down the many myths behind the so-called "miracle cure" for heart disease: statins. Carey's story won an award from the Association of Health Care Journalists at its conference in Seattle.

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Six of the world's biggest drug companies are about to be winnowed down to three. If all the mergers go through, we will have Pfizer-Wyeth, Merck-Schering-Plough and Roche-Genentech controlling more than $100 billion in drug sales every year - amounting to one seventh of all revenues for drug companies worldwide. (I wrote a story about this a couple weeks ago for the Los Angeles Times.)

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When the Peanut Corporation of America recalled thousands of peanut butter products in January for fear they were tainted with salmonella, news organizations all over the country rushed to local stores to find out what where PCA products were being sold. Justina Wang, 25, a recent Northwestern University grad who works at the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, went a step further.

Picture of William Heisel

Justina Wang at the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle tackled a topic that seems to scare most local publications: food safety.

With each food poisoning scare, local reporters cover what's happening at their corner stores. Few examine the root causes. With school board meetings, octuplet moms and a weekender due tomorrow, how could one possibly get to the bottom of our fractured food safety system?

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