b) An additional source to counterbalance my anti-SeaWorld source.
The ideal source for my piece needed to have deep knowledge of SeaWorld without being affiliated with SeaWorld. That source also needed a deep knowledge of "Blackfish" without being affiliated with "Blackfish."
David Kirby fit the bill nicely. Kirby has worked for over 25 years as an investigative journalist, including extensive stints covering health and science for the New York Times. His most recent book, Death at SeaWorld, was widely praised for the rigorous quality of its research.
When I learned that Kirby was unaffiliated with "Blackfish," but was well-informed about the film (he's written about the documentary elsewhere), I consulted him to comment on the documentary's assertions. His take on SeaWorld and the impact of orca captivity was unequivocal. "Blackfish," he said, was dead on the mark.
The problem with Kirby, as far as Forbes was concerned, had absolutely nothing to do with his work on SeaWorld. No one there suggested that he had gotten a single aspect of that story wrong. Instead, it was his earlier work on the vaccine-autism debate that stirred up trouble. Kirby's 2005 book, Evidence of Harm, in addition to his more recent coverage of a controversial debate, evidently rankled a Forbes health and science staff writer, who complained to my editor about Kirby's role in my piece.