D

ear Readers:

Six months after we launched STAT, we’re humbled every day by the emails and tweets from those of you who have come to appreciate our brand of reporting on the worlds of health and medicine.

From the start, our intent has been to deliver essential, credible, and provocative stories that you can’t find anywhere else. We’re pleased that we’ve become part of the conversation. We’ve been encouraged not only by the size of our audience — our stories have reached millions of people — but by the level of readers’ engagement.

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This week, we’re coming out of “beta” and introducing a host of improvements to STAT’s website. We’ve added a more prominent “search” function, a list of most popular stories to the right of every article, photo galleries, and more accessible sign-ups for our seven newsletters. We’ve introduced reader comments in our Pharmalot and First Opinion sections and will be rolling them out elsewhere on the site soon. We also put up new (and we hope more flattering!) photos of the STAT editorial and business team, which now numbers more than 50 people.

With so many newsrooms transfixed by the raucous presidential campaign, we have seen an even greater obligation to produce stories that, otherwise, may have gone untold — from the turmoil at Google’s life sciences company to China’s role in the deadly fentanyl epidemic, to racism at medical schools, to a penetrating narrative about a brutal cancer surgery. We’ve made it a priority to keep readers ahead on Zika and on advances in gene-editing. You don’t have to work in medicine to have been moved by the story last week about a hospice for children in Phoenix.

Another priority has been to push the creative limits with multimedia. We’ve sought to make science come alive through animation, data visualizations, and compelling videos, including three regular series: Science Happens! with Carl Zimmer; Boddities; and A Day in the Life. You can see them all in full from the new video link on our home page. 

In recent weeks, we’ve hired reporters in Los Angeles and Cleveland, with a goal of expanding our coverage of biotech and medicine beyond our headquarters in Boston. That’s in addition to our office in Washington as well as reporters in San Francisco and New York. Our audience is broad; the largest concentration of readers is in Massachusetts, thanks in part to the reach of our sister publication, the Boston Globe, which has published many of our stories. But there’s a significant number in California, New York, and Texas. More than 20 percent are international.

On the business side of STAT, our chief revenue officer, Angus Macaulay, has signed up more than two dozen prominent sponsors — no small achievement given that our enterprise did not exist until late last year.

We have a lot more in store. Up next week is the first in a new series of live events, this one with neuroscientist Gina Turrigiano, hosted by our Morning Rounds writer, Megan Thielking. Watch for an upcoming event featuring our new Kendall Square reporter, Damian Garde.

Keep an eye out for some splashy stories this week, including today’s STAT-Harvard poll on drug advertising and regulation; an amusing take on the medical implication of one newspaper reporter’s plan to literally eat his words; and a stunning Science Happens! video about using astronaut Scott Kelly’s blood to track changes in our own genes down here on Earth.

We’re also expecting news on STAT’s court fight to unseal documents that could provide new information on how Purdue Pharma marketed its potent pain pill OxyContin. A judge in Pikeville, Ky., said on Friday that he would rule on our request as soon as this week.

Though today we dropped the “beta” designation, we always appreciate feedback about our journalism and about your experience on our site. Get in touch here. In the meantime, we’re hustling 24/7 to make good on producing what our owner John W. Henry declares are “the most important stories in the world.”

— Rick Berke

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