The Sciences, the highbrow, art-laden magazine for laypeople produced by the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS), has been given the ax after 40 years of publication.
The NYAS board of governors voted unanimously to close down the award-winning mag at a 31 May meeting; the six staffers were abruptly laid off the following day and its Web site unplugged this week. The main reason, according to spokesperson Fred Moreno: The NYAS has been reshuffling its priorities and wants to devote more resources to practical matters, such as science education and studying the economic effects of pollution in the New York harbor.
The Sciences has always been a financial drain on the academy. Read primarily by the 26,000 NYAS members and carrying almost no advertising, it was never intended as a profit-maker and has cost the NYAS hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. But with membership stagnant and the NYAS changing course, executive officer Rodney Nichols said in a 1 June statement, "the board agreed that the academy needs to refocus its energy and budget on its primary mission, which cannot include being publisher of a general science magazine."
Some still question the decision to drop the magazine. "I'm sure it's a good thing that the NYAS is worrying about technology and society, but it seems a real shame to end something as unique and superb as The Sciences," says Stanford University biologist Robert Sapolsky, a contributing editor.
The editorial staff is "stunned" by the decision, editor Peter Brown wrote in an e-mail to colleagues. He says they still hope another publishing group will take over the magazine.