Rumblings of discontent and of an inside review at an essential magazine for lay science fans, Science News, are out in the open. Details of reasons are not clear, not to me anyway, but its respected editor (and a pal of mine) Tom Siegfried recently gave notice. Tomorrow is his last day. Word is that longtime editor Eva Emerson is in charge until a permanent replacement is found.
Siegfried, editor in chief of the bi-weekly since 2007, is among the most decorated science journalists in the business. On his wall or perhaps stuffed in a drawer somewhere are the awards in science journalism from the AAAS, Nat'l Association of Science Writers, American Chemical Society, American Geophysical Union, and a bunch more. His short bio is still up at Science News, as is a list of his recent columns and other writings for the magazine. I've written several articles for the magazine in the last several years. I felt privileged to be a part of the ace stable of both staff and contract writers he nourished. I met him back when he was science editor at the Dallas Morning News and serve with him now on the board at the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. He is among the best informed, most scrupulously ethical and thorough science journalists the business has ever seen. I can imagine nobody else who could call and ask me how'd I like to write a story about lattice clocks and seem to expect that I'd know what in the world he was talking about. His nose for great stories in obscure corners of science is phenomenal.
One hopes that the board and management of the respected organization that publishes Science News, the non-profit Society for Science & the Public in Washington DC, is able to maintain the high standards of professional science writing that has given its magazine such gloss (while also finding a way to the bigger revenue stream it surely needs). The magazine staff is not only among the world's largest and best groups of full-time science reporters under one masthead, it is distinguished by a beat system that allows its members to burrow more deeply into their specialties than at any other publication I know. That too, one hopes, continues.
See ya around Tom.
- Charlie Petit