A journalist on lessons from his Theranos takedown

Nick Bilton's analysis of his Theranos exposé shows how bad actors like Elizabeth Holmes can misuse employees and government regulators, but he is especially critical of access journalism practiced in the business trades. It's a great read for anyone who writes as part of their job.

Paste Magazine pinned part of the blame on our "culture of experts," arguing that Holmes is the logical conclusion of that culture. Bilton notes that writing about someone, whether good or bad, has real-world consequences:

But perhaps the most shocking example of Holmes's activity was revealed to me in mid-July, when I found myself waiting at Café Venetia on University Avenue in Palo Alto, to meet with Rochelle Gibbons. Gibbons, who is soft-spoken, spent the better part of our two-hour conversation oscillating between tears and anger as she spoke about Ian Gibbons, her husband and the former chief scientist of Theranos who committed suicide three years ago, largely due, she said, to the pressures of working for Holmes.

As I read Bilton's piece, I was reminded of this quotation cited almost 100 years ago, on a little framed placard on the desk of L. E. Edwardson, an editor at the Chicago Herald and Examiner:

"Whatever a patron desires to get published is advertising; whatever he wants to keep out of the paper is news," .

How I got to the bottom of the Theranos mess (Vanity Fair)

Previously: The rise and fall of Theranos