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Reporting on Pot 

Now that recreational marijuana is legal in Oregon, more publications are beefing up their cannabis coverage. Some publications—chiefly the alt-weeklies—have regular pot columns. And now, the Oregonian is getting in on the action.

The O is looking for a freelance "cannabis critic" to, according to the job posting, "critique marijuana strains, infused products and highlight consumer trends unique to Oregon's robust marijuana culture and medical marijuana marketplace."

(You know who else is looking for a regular cannabis columnist? The Source. Interested? Email editor@bendsource.com.)

The daily's critic at the Oregonian would contribute two to four times each month, which is probably why it's a freelance gig instead of a staff position. That and, as the Willamette Week notes, the Oregonian's parent company, Advance Publications, drug tests prospective employees. (You know who doesn't drug test employees? The Source. Just saying.)

We're not sure why media companies are still drug testing journalists (we're looking at you, Bulletin). But according to Gawker, most major communications companies still make their employees pee in a cup, including the parent companies of Newsday and USA Today as well as The New York Times and The Washington Post.

While one could argue that a reporter doesn't need to have firsthand experience with something to report on it (for example, crime reporters don't need to have a criminal record), permitting reporters the occasional toke seems far safer than the whiskey bottles in the desk drawer of yore. Of course, there are some who argue journalists should be required to publicly disclose past or present drug use to address potential bias.

"Current or past drug use doesn't necessarily have any bearing on how well one does one's job, so in the abstract, I simply don't see it as a bias or condition worth disclosing," Jonathan Fischer, now a Slate senior editor, said in a 2013 National Review story on the subject. "Unless the reporter is secretly the vice president for communications of the cocaine lobby, the fact that he has done cocaine shouldn't really matter much to his reporting on the drug, except perhaps by giving him a better familiarity with the basic terms of art."

We'll smoke to that.

About The Author

Erin Rook

Erin is the Source Weekly's Associate Editor. Before moving to Bend in 2013, Erin worked as a writer and editor for publications in Portland including PQ Monthly and Just Out. He has also written for the Willamette Week, El Hispanic News, Travel Portland, OUT City, Boston magazine and the Taunton Daily Gazette...
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