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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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?

They’re everywhere. In your intestines, mouth, nose, all over your skin. We usually think of microbes as germs that make us sick. But a new exhibit in Ashland, Oregon teaches children and adults to embrace their germs.

“Do you know if this is lacto-fermented?” a woman asks me, sniffing the sauerkraut at the salad bar of the Ashland Food Co-op. “It smells like it.”

It’s eight a.m. and Betsy Hicks and her husband, John Hicks, M.D., a pediatrician in private practice in Los Gatos, California, are stopping in Ashland on their way to Portland to visit family.

The Medford Police Department

Lieutenant Kevin Walruff, 49, is a big, clean-shaven man wearing a light blue button-down and a Santa Claus and reindeer tie. I follow him down a hallway and into a conference room in the nondescript building of florescent lighting and concrete blocks that currently houses the Medford Police Department. I notice that he has handcuffs clipped to his pants and .40-caliber Glock holstered at his waist.

Steven Addington Photography

Cocktail dresses. Embroidered cowboy boots. Tight black mini skirts. Three-piece suits. The some 500 wine enthusiasts and foodies who came out for the 34th Annual Jefferson Public Radio Wine Tasting and Silent Auction at the historic Ashland Springs Hotel were looking good last night.

Susan Langston

Well, what I really want for Valentine’s Day is a trip to the Bahamas.

Jamaica, Hawaii, Costa Rica—those places would be fine too. But since the price of air travel seems to be going up—especially around the holidays—as gas prices are going down, local romance is a lot more affordable.

Jennifer Margulis

When my brother was getting a Master’s degree at U.C. Berkeley in the early 1990s he’d take road trips to Reno, Nevada every once in a while. After all, it was cheaper than Las Vegas, and a quicker drive. Zach would find himself a motel for 20 bucks a night and hit the casinos, playing low stakes Blackjack as an antidote to the pressure cooker of his graduate studies.

That’s long been my image of Reno: a mostly seedy, rather rundown adult playground where prostitution is legal, everybody smokes, and steak is the meat on every menu.