Someone on r/tea suggested updating the Celestial Seasonings (a tea brand) wikipedia page "to include the pesticide thing."

A Google search finds a response of Celestial Seasonings to these accusation, saying that the reports were "false and misleading."
Second, the only sites that came up aside from their page were The Examiner and Natural News.

I know Natural News is full of woo, but I do not know whether The Examiner is a reliable source? For what it is worth, here is the original claim from Glaucus Research.

Do the Celestial Seasonings teas contain dangerously high pesticide levels?

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    Which Examiner are you referring to? That's a fairly common name for a news source so without that information this really isn't answerable in the current state. Also, can you include links to the original claims?
    – rjzii
    Jun 29, 2013 at 3:30
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    Are you skeptical that Celestial Seasonings contains pesticides, or are you skeptical that The Examiner is a reliable news source? I don't see anyone claiming that The Examiner is reliable, unless by their very existence, this claim is implied, in which case the Celestial Seasonings stuff is all irrelevant.
    – Flimzy
    Jun 29, 2013 at 6:31
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    This should really be a question about the report from Glaccus Research and not the Examiner itself. If they properly sourced their article, even if they are "tabloidish" as a whole, the claim could in fact be accurate and the reputation of the Examiner is not going to affect that accuracy.
    – rjzii
    Jun 29, 2013 at 14:02
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    @Flimzy: I don't think it is that subjective. I read it as higher then the general amount found in tea, possibly comparing it with whatever level the regulatory bodies retain as safe for human consumption.
    – nico
    Jun 30, 2013 at 8:14
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    @Flimzy: that is what the answer should say. They contain x amount of the pesticide xyz which may be dangerous if you drink x cups a day for x years. As the Examiner's artile speaks about "Dangerously high levels" I think that is how the claim should be reported. A proper answer would have to deal with whether the dosage is dangerous and in which conditions. Omnia venenum sunt: nec sine veneno quicquam existit. Dosis sola facit, ut venenum non fit..
    – nico
    Jun 30, 2013 at 20:31

1 Answer 1


Note: This answers the original question of whether Examiner.com is a reliable news source. Based on remarks made by an executive editor of The Examiner, the website is a less reliable source than a newspaper.

However, that is not a valid reason to reject a claim published by the source. Judging an article by the company it keeps is a fallacy and in this case is probably poisoning the well. As always, we can only judge the soundness of an argument according to its reasoning, premises, and evidence.

Examiner.com published the article “‘Dangerously high pesticide levels’ found in Celestial Seasonings teas” by Roger Ziegler on March 22, 2013. Their front page currently features celebrity news, emphasizing legal and drug abuse scandals.

Wikipedia describes Examiner.com as a fast-growing news network with a blog-like platform:

Examiner.com is a media company based in Denver, Colorado, that operates a network of local news websites, allowing "pro–am contributors" to share their city-based knowledge on a blog-like platform, in 238 markets throughout the United States and parts of Canada with two national editions, one for each country.

The domain was previously owned by The San Francisco Examiner, a daily newspaper that was the “longtime ‘Monarch of the Dailies’ and flagship of the Hearst Corporation chain.” Philip Anschutz of Clarity Media Group acquired the newspaper and domain in 2004, transforming both:

Under Clarity ownership, the Examiner pioneered a new business model for the newspaper industry. Designed to be read quickly, the Examiner is presented in a compact, tabloid size without story jumps. . . . By February 2008, the company had transformed the newspaper's examiner.com domain into a national hyperlocal brand with local websites throughout the United States.

Clarity Media Group sold the newspaper in 2011 but still owns the website.

Wikipedia notes several issues with Examiner.com, especially:

  • accusations of plagiarism and poor editorial oversight in 2007,
  • substandard pay for some contributors, and
  • a 79% drop in search traffic credited to Google tuning out “content farms” in 2011.

Some of these criticisms predate the website's current incarnation. For example, the plagiarism claims stem from an investigation by Matt Smith of SF Weekly in 2007, when Clarity still ran the website as an online companion to the newspaper (emphasis mine):

“They're blogs. They don't get edited,” explained Examiner executive editor Jim Pimentel. “We don't give any direction to people on what to write in their blogs. And that's standard operating procedure.”

Pimentel was unaware of [plagiarism] when I spoke with him Friday, but he told me the Examiner has a less-strict standard for accuracy and attribution in stories that appear on the Web. That's because online stories can be changed as journalistic problems emerge, while printed stories require publishing corrections, he said.

While Examiner.com did address the specific plagiarism concerns that Smith expressed, they still emphasize semi-professional blogging, and the impact of Google's search tuning suggests that the site is weak in original content.

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    But none of this answers the question of whether it is a "reliable news source."
    – Flimzy
    Jun 29, 2013 at 6:29
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    @Flimzy Sensationalism, amateur blogging, poor editorial oversight, content aggregation, and cashing in on the name of a once-respected all point strongly to “not reliable,” no? Jun 29, 2013 at 7:36
  • @BraddSzonye For the journalistic source as a whole, not really. Skimming though the article they did site there sources (the accuracy of those sources is questionable) and had they not they could have been subject to a lawsuit for libel.
    – rjzii
    Jun 29, 2013 at 14:01
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    @Flimzy True that, which is why I presented the evidence without making a judgment call. Jun 30, 2013 at 5:52
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    Regarding the change in question, normally I would suggest deleting the answer, but the OP accepted your answer, which, IMHO, is a sign that the edit to the question was inappropriate and should be rolled back. But then, that leaves us with a bad question which should be closed... it's all a rather lost cause, I suspect.
    – Flimzy
    Jul 1, 2013 at 4:59

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