Second thoughts on Templeton’s funding of Nautilus.

Not long ago, I talked to Michael Segal, the editor in chief of Nautilus, about a story I was pitching to the magazine. We didn’t go ahead with that piece, but in the course of our conversation, Segal asked if I would update a post I wrote last year expressing concern about Nautilus’s funding. He was concerned that the post could unfairly damage Nautilus’s reputation.

The post I wrote last year noted that the magazine is supported by the John Templeton Foundation, which funds a variety of projects on science and religion. My concern was that Nautilus, in accepting that support, might have adopted some piece of Templeton’s agenda.

A year later, I can say that I haven’t seen evidence of that. Nautilus has enlisted a number of distinguished contributors and is making a solid contribution to science journalism with its monthly themed issues.

I’m not sorry I raised the question about Nautilus’s agenda. Journalism is reinventing itself, and many on- and off-line publications have moved far away from the old model of advertiser support (which had numerous problems of its own).

But I’m pleased to report that Nautilus is serving its readers in the best way it can–with the best science journalism it can produce. In a response to my previous post, Segal wrote that the Templeton grant “is arm’s-length and doesn’t involve any direct control.” As far as I can tell from reading the copy, that’s accurate.

-Paul Raeburn

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