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Why Whale Poop Matters More Than You Might Think

A new paper in Nature suggest whales poop a lot. That’s great news!

When a journalist follows a specific beat, they develop a network of people they know and who know them, people with specific expertise, who are available or friendly, or good at explaining difficult concepts. Ofthen these people know the journalist does good work, and will get the facts right, and so are more likely to pick up the phone or answer an email or send a tip for a story. These source networks are immensely valuable for journalists.

But because I am interested in so many things, writing about the mathematics of espionage one minute and science policy the next, I often lose touch with the fascinating people who give graciously of their time. And that is a real loss. So recently I emailed a researcher who previously helped me figure out the true size of a whale's anus. Clearly not someone I want to lose touch with! He had mentioned there was some work he had hoped to publish soon. Did he have anything interesting to tell me? It turned out he did! Because this work was published in one of science's most prestigious journals, and anything poop related is science news gold, plenty of other reporters wrote about it too, but I think I was the first to hear about it.


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