Morton Mintz v. Tobacco Industry
As finals come upon us in this last week, students find themselves resorting to a number of de-stressing methods, whether they are watching TV, talking to friends from back home, doodling in their notebook, or for people like me, smoking. Time and time again, we have been warned about the dangerous affects of cigarettes and their addicting chemicals, but sometimes we find ourselves giving in to such temptations. Personally, I find cigarettes as an excuse to go outside and escape from my papers and incessant studying to take a break and catch a “breather”; but, do I really know what I’m risking when it comes to inhaling these tiny “cancer sticks”, as they have been dubbed. Not likely. Most smokers turn the blind eye and decide to not delve into the decades and decades of research and scientific backing that tells of these harmful side effects, simply because we don’t want to be conscious of what we’re doing to ourselves. However, investigative journalists, like Morton Mintz, make it extremely difficult for smokers in denial to look the other way.
Mintz, a Washington Post reporter for almost 3 decades, has been an investigator of misconduct done by large and influential corporations. He has written about tobacco companies along with automotive and pharmaceutical companies, all of which play a substantive role in our society. Aside from writing for the Washington Post, Mintz is also the author and co-author of a number of books.
In 1943, he graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in Economics. From there, Mintz joined the U.S. Navy, which ended in 1946 when he started a new job for a local newspaper, the St. Louis Star-Times. This job was what launched him into investigative journalism. Mintz went on to work for the Globe-Democrat, the Washington Post, expose the dangers of thalidomide, accept a number of awards, and publish his own books.
However, what I find truly interesting about Morton Mintz’s work, is his reporting on the tobacco industry and the corruption of these corporations. Beginning in 1965, and continuing to 1999, Mintz reported heavily on this industry, disclosing information about the 1988 smoker-death trial. This trial enforced all cigarette makers to reveal what they knew about the dangers and side effects of smoking. During this time period, in 1993, he wrote “Allies: The ACLU and the Tobacco Industry”; a piece that informed citizens that the American Civil Liberties Union’s were advocating an industry cause in Congress while soliciting and accepting money from that industry.
Investigative journalists, like Morton Mintz, not only provide information to the people but also, they strike up the urge to do research for one’s own satisfaction or curiosity. After seeing all of the information and work that Mintz did about these tobacco companies and reporting on the hazards of smoking, I found it necessary to stop fooling myself into thinking smoking was something that would only affect me years down the line, and to finally realize the current dangers that I face.