The heavy hand of Mickey Mouse descended on Discover Magazine today, ousting editor-in-chief Marc Zabludoff. Insiders say Zabludoff was bounced after banging heads with the new head of publishing at Walt Disney Company, which bought Discover in 1991. "Marc was universally admired on the editorial side," says a Discover editor. "We're all shocked."
Disney has been trying to make the science magazine, which boasts a circulation of 1.2 million, more accessible to the general public. In the process the publishers have tightened their control of editorial decisions about the magazine's design and content. Some staff were irked by Disney senior vice president Steve Murphy's insistence that John Glenn grace the cover of their year-end January issue, which will feature the top science discoveries of 1998. Glenn's flight "didn't seem like one of the top stories of the year," says one editor. Murphy could not be reached for comment; the Disney Company was still working on a statement as ScienceNOW went to press.
After 11 years at the magazine, Zabludoff was looking on the bright side today as he packed up. "I get to replace frustration with mere anxiety," he says, "and that's probably a step up." The new inhabitant of his office will be Stephen Petranek, currently editor-in-chief of This Old House magazine.