Now for some good news. The Tampa Bay Times won its ninth Pulitzer Prize on Monday for a series of editorials last year by Tim Nickens and Daniel Ruth which put head on the Pinellas county commissioners who tried to stop the addition of fluoride to the water system. If you recall, we covered the article about the commissioners election loss here. They lost because they sided with anti-fluoridation extremists. The push by the press to expose this to the public was rewarded.
This is a quote from the Pulitzer nominating letter from Times Editor Neil Brown:
In October 2011, the Pinellas County Commission turned back the clock. The commission, pressured by antifluoride zealots and tea party conservatives, abruptly voted to stop adding fluoride to the drinking water. The commissioners ignored established science and the public health, and in January 2012 the Pinellas water system suddenly became one of the nation’s largest without fluoridated water. More than 700,000 residents no longer benefited from what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls one of the nation’s greatest health care advances.
These editorials produced profound results. In a rare occurrence, voters in November ousted two incumbent commissioners who had voted to stop adding fluoride in the water and replaced them with two candidates who pledged to add it back. In their first meetings after the election, the new commissioners fulfilled their pledge. Another incumbent who was not on the ballot also switched his vote and supported fluoride. A County Commission that had voted 4-3 a year ago to stop adding fluoride voted 6-1 to resume adding it to the drinking water in March 2013.
This was a big boost to the paper, its staff and the state of editorial journalism in general.
When it comes to fluoridation stories, we often get commentators pushing their own propaganda. If you read the comment policy you will be made aware that I don’t allow this. If you have questions, fine, but the science is quite clear on this topic. The plans of use for fluoride in public water systems is successful and safe. However, I completely understand that there are tangential issues that make this a controversy. Those topics are worthy of discussion but the decision to reverse the fluoridation process in Pinellas county was obviously the wrong move. It’s great this got such attention.
Tim Farley provided me with a side note that makes me even more pleased for this paper, theTampa Bay Times is also the same paper that has LONG focused on Scientology’s abuses in Clearwater, Florida. They have run this series in recent years. Years ago, when the paper was called the St. Petersburg Times, they won the 1980 Pulitzer for Investigative Reporting for an earlier investigation into Scientology by Bette Orsini and Charles Stafford.
Is the owner of this paper is a skeptic? Maybe the Tampa Bay Skeptics can let us know.
Tip: David Wood and Tim Farley (for all the extra info)