The Firebreak's Thematic Stories

The Firebreak is publishing a number of special series or thematic stories. Certain issues need longer stories to try to get at the heart of what is going. Each of these stories unfolds into an in-depth analysis.

The Heartland Study Exposé

David Zaruk and Kathleen Hefferon unravelled how the Heartland Health Research Alliance (HHRA) was created by tort lawyers and activists from the organic food industry to fund scientists who would manufacture research beneficial to their campaigns. What this three-part exposé reveals is the extent that these activist scientists would go to hide their special interest funding, distort their research methodology and create artificial partnerships.

The La Jolla Tobacconization Playbook

In 2012 a group of academics, tort lawyers and activist NGOs met in La Jolla, CA, to develop a strategy to attack other industries in the same way groups succeeded in the fight against Big Tobacco. The strategy is to attack targeted companies with mass tort litigations coordinated with NGO reputational smear campaigns and academic publications to amplify in the media. This series looks at how these groups are proceeding in implementing their strategy.

Foundations for Activism

The growth of foundations and trusts over the last decade has changed the way policy debates, media coverage and public discourse takes place. Some foundations are now funding large mainstream media groups, creating “independent” news sources, tort law firms and NGOs. With the explosion of anonymous, donor-advised funds, there is no transparency on who is funding which activist groups and for whose benefit. This series looks at the means of funding and distributing the wealth as well as focusing on the activities of certain active foundations.

The WHO’s War on Industry

The Firebreak produced a five-part series to analyze a recent WHO publication seeking to isolate practically all industries from public discourse (tobacconization). It sheds light on the potential consequences should its member states implement this strategy in the public health policy arena.

Reporters for Hire

As mainstream media groups are undergoing important shifts in their business model and funding sources, some have become more creative in how they are financed. This series looks at how funding is coming from foundations, how supposedly independent news groups are not reporting their special-interests and how this is affecting their coverage.

Weekly Firebreak Roundups

All the news that’s fit to hide!
The Firebreak compiles a weekly analysis of stories that the media miss (usually for political reasons) or non-news stories that they over-report on (usually for political reasons).