MacArthur Fellows Program

Thomas Whiteside

Journalist | Class of 1986

New York, New York
68 at time of award
October 10, 1997
Published August 1, 1986

About Thomas' Work

Thomas Whiteside was an investigative reporter who specialized in the subject of mass communications.

In 1969, Whiteside began to investigate the subject of the dioxin contaminant in the chemical mixture Agent Orange, then being used in herbicidal warfare in Vietnam.  His writings were largely responsible for Senate subcommittee hearings in 1970 on the safety of the herbicide 2,4,5-T.  After these hearings, official restrictions were imposed on the domestic use of Agent Orange and an effective ban was placed on its use in the Vietnam War.  Whiteside also had written at length on the subject of U.S. policies concerning chemical and biological warfare.


In mass communications, Whiteside had written on various aspects of broadcasting, and on the threat to the free flow of ideas posed by economic and structural developments in the publishing business.  His book, The Blockbuster Complex (1981), led the Federal Trade Commission to examine these developments and to investigate anti-competitive practices in book distribution.  His other works include Defoliation (1970), The Pendulum and the Toxic Cloud (1977) and Computer Capers (1978).  He had been a contributor to the New Yorker magazine since 1950.

Whiteside came to the United States from Canada in 1940. 

Last updated January 1, 2005.

Select News Coverage of Thomas Whiteside
October 12, 1997
"Thomas Whiteside, 79, Dies; Writer Exposed Agent Orange"
The New York Times
Thomas Whiteside , 1986 MacArthur Fellow
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