Scientific American just ensured it’s not going to sit on my list of recommended reading for a while. In a choice between money and professionalism, they jumped for the money.
The base of the tale starts at isisthescientist. In the tale a rather well-known blogging scientist in her field is invited to write for an online science journal. She asks the terms (to include payments), gets a response (that includes that there will be no monetary payment), and politely declines.
The immediate return email to Dr. Lee was:
Because we don’t pay for blog entries?
Are you an urban scientist or an urban whore?
OK, while the rage is simmering let’s take one thing out of the discussion. Dr. Lee’s blog is “Urban Scientist”. This isn’t about race in any way, shape, or form. The sexism on the other hand, well, ‘fire for effect’.
Now this is bad enough. Sexism and a lack of professionalism rolled into one little message. Apparently “no” means “Please abuse me” to this web editor. But it gets worse.
See, Dr. Lee posted the email exchange (in full) and her thoughts (which were rather restrained, actually) to her blog. Her blog, which used to be independent but which for the past while has been hosted by Scientific American. The editors of Scientific American – no, let me be accurate. Marietta DiChristina, Editor in Chief for Scientific American, pulled her blog post. When asked, she replied, “Re blog inquiry: @sciam is a publication for discovering science. The post was not appropriate for this area & was therefore removed.”
Yaknow, that’d stand a lot better if I had never read any of the Scientific American blogs. Since I have I know that writers have spoken of vacations and cooking and other somewhat personal stuff that’s loosely connected to the writer’s field of study.
But the killing blow comes with a little research. You see, Biology Online is a partner of Scientific American.
What it looks like – whether it is or not – is that Scientific American suppressed bad press instead of dealing with the misbehaving individual.
SciAm has been getting fewer and fewer visits from me. With this I’ll keep an eye out for further actions (apologies, lopped heads, etc), but will probably not give them any more hit counts. Oh, and biology online can die on the vine as far as I’m concerned.