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Why I left ScienceBlogs

Why I left ScienceBlogs

Picture of Maryn McKenna

Let me tell you a little story about my first husband.

We met when I was in graduate school. He was a foreign journalist working in America and I interned where he worked. I left town, finished my degree, moved back. We reconnected, got married, and were considered enough of a catch -- two sharp young thrusters, an investigative reporter and an editor -- to be head-hunted by a large paper in the Midwest.

To defuse romantic nostalgia, it is important to say that he was unsuited to marriage, with outsize appetites for beer and for women who were not me. But he was perfectly adapted to journalism, smart, bold, adored by his staff, and rising up the professional ladder fast enough to leave contrails.

We had not been at that paper very long when stupid actions by his supervisors confronted him with a choice that no one who loves their work wants to make: Stay and be ethically compromised, or leave with intact standards and an empty wallet. He chose to leave, yanking the brakes on his trajectory and blowing up his career.

I've always admired that action. I always wondered whether, faced with a similar situation, I'd be that brave.

Which is my way of saying that I'm leaving Scienceblogs.

I am I think the youngest sibling, having arrived 7 weeks ago after 3+ years at Blogger. I was flattered to be asked to join the excellent bloggers here and energized to be in a network. The Pepsi debacle was a grave disappointment. The follow-on revelations of what appear to be earlier questionable actions by Seed Media Group (here, here and here) are disturbing.

But what troubles me most, going forward, is Seed Media's glacially paced and indifferent communication with its bloggers, whose frustration was captured yesterday by PZ Myers and even more by Bora Z in a masterful must-read analysis. Without open and complete communication -- accountability, transparency, sunlight -- I can't feel secure that I won't be ethically compromised again.

That experience with my ex -- which also derailed my career for a while, because of course I left the paper with him -- taught me that the pain of an ethically based decision is an almost infallible guide to its correctness. Sacrificing my connection to this community, its mouthy contentiousness, fearsome expertise and generous welcomes -- and yeah, its traffic and its page ranks and its reputation -- hurts.

And therefore I'm sure it's the right thing to do.

I'll be resuming blogging for the time being at least at my old Blogger site, now renamed If Superbug finds a new home, I'll make the announcement there also. I hope to see some of you there. Thank you for our time together here.


Picture of Peter Lipson

Lovely piece, Maryn

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