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Opinion: Taking Care to Protect an Endangered Subject

Why this week’s cover story involved following cars to secret locations

Research Specialist Christy Bell of the Multi-Agency Rocky Intertidal Network passes a rescued black abalone to Wendy Bragg (crouching). The abalone will be transported to a facility where it can be cared for until it can be returned to a safe location in the wild. PHOTO: STEVE LONHART

Editor's Note

Steve Palopoli Profile Photo

Some stories we report at GT just naturally have intrigue around them. If we’re investigating a scandal or public controversy, chances are we’re going to have sources who want to be off the record. I’ve met people in some pretty weird places to get information for a story, that’s for sure.

But when Erin Malsbury signed on for this week’s cover story about marine scientists’ efforts to save the black abalone, she didn’t expect to be managing intense confidentiality issues and following cars out to secret locations. This time it wasn’t the sources for her story she was protecting, though—it was the subject. Poachers have been known to break into scientific facilities to steal abalone, so researchers here keep the details of their work with black abalone, from rescues to releases to the site of the holding center itself, classified. We’ve been fascinated in the newsroom by Erin’s behind-the-scenes work on this story, and impressed by the integrity she’s demonstrated in earning the trust of the people doing this important work. The resulting story is a must-read.

STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

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