I mean this post to address the convulsions in the science-writing community that arose this past week in the wake of the problems faced by writer Danielle N. Lee, PhD regarding her Scientific American blog. That situation was resolved to good effect and quickly; if you’d like to catch up on that, the posts are here and here.
(Constant Readers, bear with me. I’ll get back to scary diseases and food policy next week.)
As most in that professional community know, but other readers and members of my other networks may not, Lee’s experience inadvertently triggered a cascade of revelations in which Bora Zivkovic, the blogs editor at SciAm and a very powerful and outspoken gatekeeper in science writing, was accused of sexual harassment by an aspiring writer. (Not Lee.) Over several days, additional accusations with and without names attached tumbled around the blogosphere and Twitterverse until, on Friday, one of his bloggers — the third woman to come forward by name — published a searing account of her experience which included quotes from sexually explicit emails he had written. Within hours, he resigned from his SciAm post. (The best wrap-up is Laura Helmuth’s at Slate.)
As a SciAm columnist and contributing editor, I am grateful that Zivkovic has been separated from the magazine and institution. But I think it is important to emphasize how wide the impact of his bad behavior has been. So I want to address the continuing ripples in the community, especially surrounding the forthcoming beloved and very hot-ticket conference, Science Online, which he helped create.