Tim Schwab

journalist and Writer in Washington, DC

Tim Schwab

journalist and Writer in Washington, DC

Read my articles

My reporting examines the intersection of public and private interests, and the conflicts of interest that can emerge. Over the last year, I've put this critical lens on the world of philanthropy, examining the ways that Big Charity can function as a tool to advance to the political agendas and financial interests of wealthy patrons.

Through a reporting fellowship from the Alicia Patterson Foundation, I focused my investigation on the Gates Foundation, publishing four articles (16,000 words) in The Nation and Columbia Journalism Review. My stories examined the dearth of regulations and oversight over the Gates Foundation and its outsize and controversial role in the pandemic. I also reported on how the Gates Foundation funds many of its would-be critics—-in journalism and academia—-which has introduced bias and blindspots into public understanding of Gates.

In The BMJ, I examined a different corner of philanthropy, unearthing $14 million in charitable donations from the Sackler family (owners of Purdue Pharma, makers of the opioid OxyContin) to the National Academy of Medicine. My investigation compelled several medical journals to issue formal corrections to the Academies' work, belatedly disclosing financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.

I'm also a critic of the fourth estate; my work here includes investigating (and reviewing) how documentary filmmakers work with corporate sponsors to produce films that blur the line between independent cinema and industry advertising. I also wrote an essay examining the pack journalism surrounding the embattled (and now former) Cornell University Professor Brian Wansink.

Elsewhere, I've reported on a $200 million corporate research subsidy in the Farm Bill; McDonald's questionable promises around reducing its carbon footprint; the pharmaceutical industry's influence over opioid painkiller policy; and whether a scientist's non-financial interests (religion, politics, diet) should be regarded as disclosable conflicts of interest.

Prior to freelancing, I worked as a journalist for two daily newspapers and as a researcher for the NGO Food & Water Watch (which took no industry or government funding). My last major research project there, a peer-reviewed article in PLoSONE in early 2017, was credited with compelling the National Academies of Sciences to overhaul its conflict-of-interest rules.

@timothywschwab

timschwab2020 at protonmail

timschwab2020 at gmail