Jennifer Margulis


Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., produces radio features for JPR and is a regular contributor to the Jefferson Journal. She's a former senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and on the cover of Smithsonian magazine. Her book, Your Baby, Your Way, has been called a "searing and well-researched exposé" by midwife and author Ina May Gaskin. She lives in Southern Oregon with her husband and four children.

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In light of the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic, the Ashland Independent Film Festival, scheduled for April 16-20, will not be taking place as planned. For more details, visit

Ann Sanborn

Warning: This article focuses on the sensitive topic of suicide and contains strong language that may offend some readers. 

It was Tuesday night when Gabriel Sanborn walked to the neighbor’s farm and sat in a chair next to their hot tub, looking out at the view of Ashland, Oregon below. He probably sat there for an hour, no one’s really sure. Around 2:00 a.m. on February 20, 2019 Gabriel put a rifle in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

He was just 20 years old. 

When she was 46, a woman we’ll call Hope (who asked to remain anonymous for reasons which will become obvious) was finding it impossible to fall and stay asleep at night. She was working full-time, raising a child with extreme special needs, and dealing with worrisome health issues of her own. 

She had Lyme disease, as well as retinitis pigmentosa, a condition which resulted in the loss of vision in her left eye, and herniated disks in her back. On top of all that, Hope was leaving a job she’d had for over a decade to start a new career.

Photo by Michael Bragg

It’s the 40th anniversary of Apocalypse Now, that gritty disturbing film that became a cult classic in 1979. In its honor, this year’s Ashland Independent Film Festival has chosen APOCALYPSE as its theme.

Darren Campbell

You really can’t watch Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 tour de force, without cringing. The film begins with an ominous zwit zwit of helicopter blades, a sound that grows louder and more ominous as a lush palm jungle appears in the frame. 

When Jean Houston attended her 60th college reunion, she says her classmates didn’t recognize her. “You must be Jean Houston’s granddaughter,” one crowed. “Where’s your grandma?”

I’m Jean Houston,” Houston, who graduated from Barnard College in 1958, insisted. Her classmate, incredulous, called over another alumna. 

“You’re too young to be Jean Houston!” the other friend scoffed.

Dan Wynn, ©Elisabeth Wynn and courtesy of the James Beard Foundation

The year 1903 may be best known as the year that the elephant Topsy was filmed while being electrocuted on Coney Island, or as the year that Ford Motor Company sold its first Model A to a dentist in Chicago. It was also the year Wilbur and Orville Wright, two brothers famous for their bickering, successfully flew the first powered airplane the world had ever seen. 

Has this ever happened to you? You call your __________ (spouse, sibling, boss) to discuss something important. Maybe it’s about an upcoming vacation. Maybe about the work you’ve just been assigned. You know how busy and distracted people are—and it’s the middle of the day—so you check first to make sure that now is indeed a good time to talk. They say yes, sure, and you think you have their full attention. 

And maybe you do.

But not for long. 

TC-Torres via Pixabay

Low-income women in Oregon who want to have their babies at a birth center or at home are covered by the Oregon Health Plan if they meet certain criteria. OHP is Oregon’s Medicaid program.

But midwives from around the state say it’s so difficult to get state insurance approval that women’s choices in childbirth are in jeopardy.

Jennifer Margulis / JPR

It’s not a hug. It’s hygge (roughly pronounced “HOO-guh”), the Danish word for “cozy togetherness.”

Now, the Danish tradition of  hygge is on the radar of some Oregon parents. 

And JPR’s Jennifer Margulis is hoping to get some for Mother’s Day.

Saul Martinez

Richard Herskowitz adjusts his orange-rimmed glasses, opens his laptop, and turns the computer screen towards the small group seated around a conference table at the offices of the Ashland Independent Film Festival on A Street in Ashland. It’s a soggy day in mid-January and AIFF is gearing up: in just four months an estimated 8,000 people will flood the movie theaters in Ashland, Oregon to attend the 16th annual film festival, which takes place April 6th to April 10th. About 80 percent of the attendees come from within 50 miles of Ashland and 20 percent from out of town.

Darren Campbell

The Ashland Independent Film Festival is gearing up for its 16th season, which takes place for five days in early April. JPR reporter Jennifer Margulis has been busy getting a behind-the-scenes look at how it all happens. JPR’s Liam Moriarty invited Jennifer into the studio to tell us about it. 

Call Number: (Library of Congress) LC-USF34-T01-020993

Three young children peek their faces out of a makeshift tent. The oldest two are smiling, looking at the camera. Their tow-headed baby brother is looking down, his fingers holding something unidentifiable to his mouth. If you look carefully you can just make out the face of a fourth child inside the darkness in the tent. The children’s hair is tangled and their ill-fitting clothes are stained and filthy. The photo’s caption reads, “Lighthearted kids in Merrill FSA Camp, Klamath County, Oregon.”

Editor’s note: Ashland-based investigative journalist and science writer, Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., delves into the world of in-home senior care for this feature, made possible by The Fund for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) in Washington D.C., and the Journalists in Aging Fellows Program of New America Media and the Gerontological Society of America.

Jennifer Margulis

Eat your vegetables! It’s a refrain parents tell their children all the time.

Government guidelines recommend kids eat three to five servings of vegetables a day—as much as a cup of veggies with every meal. But are Oregon children eating any vegetables?

We sent reporter Jennifer Margulis on a mission to find out.

Katy Warner via Wikimedia Commons

Tylenol is one of the most widely used painkillers across the United States. Its main ingredient, acetaminophen, is present in more than 600 over-the-counter and prescription medications. But several recent studies are bringing up new concerns about this familiar drug.

Jennifer Margulis/JPR

Oregon has one of the highest rates of home birth in the United States. These births are usually attended by state-licensed midwives. But some pregnant women and the midwives who care for them say that a state agency is unfairly --and maybe illegally-- denying low-income women access to home birth. 

Jennifer Margulis/JPR

Oregon midwives are licensed to deliver babies at home or at independent birth centers. The Oregon Health Plan covers midwifery services, so that low-income women can also have choices in childbirth.

But midwives say state health insurance is unfairly denying low-income women access to home birth, leading some women to deliver their babies with no medical assistance.

Jennifer Margulis/JPR

Of the more than 45,000 babies born in Oregon each year, nearly a third are delivered by Cesarean section. Yet studies show that surgical birth is riskier for the mother, and not as healthy for the baby, as vaginal birth.

Women who give birth out of hospital are much less likely to have C-sections. But low-income Oregonians and the midwives who care for them say that a state agency is unfairly blocking women from even trying for a vaginal birth. 


Some people—like my five-year-old—adore the holidays. Since we celebrate both Hanukah and Christmas in our house, Leone gets a winter two-for-one.

Presents! Treats! Snow forts! What’s not to love?