Just a few weeks after I happily was named a science writer at the AP, a pharmaceutical company called to tell me that it was planning a conference that I should cover. "Tell me more," I said. "It's in Geneva," the pharma publicist said, "and we'll pay your way there and back, put you up in a hotel, and feed you. And all you have to do is go to the conference." Or words to that effect.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, you know what I mean? I could have taken the junket, quit the AP, and launched myself into a glamorous world of travel and writing to promote the products of the pharmaceutical industry. Instead, I opted for long hours and a subsistence income. (The income has grown a bit over the years, but the hours don't seem to be any shorter.)
Pharma's offer was what's known, technically, as a junket. It wanted to pay me to write favorable stuff.
That's what seems to be happening with a couple of...