Society

Scientific American Writer Called An 'Urban Whore' For Refusing To Work For Free (Video)

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

After African-American biologist Danielle N. Lee, PhD, rejected a request to write for free for a Scientific American partner site, the editor of Biology-Online.org emailed her back asking “Are you an urban scientist or an urban whore?”

When Dr. Lee blogged about the offensive interaction on her Scientific American blog Friday, SciAm editors deleted her post without warning.

Dr. Lee is a postdoctoral research associate at Oklahoma State University who writes on diversity issues in the scientific community.

She says received an email from the editor of Biology-Online.org, but ultimately decided not to write for the website when she learned she would not be compensated.

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“Thank you very much for your reply. But I will have to decline your offer. Have a great day,” she wrote the editor.

She took a screengrab of the editor’s response and noted the exchange on her blog.

“Because we don’t pay for blog entries?” the editor responded. “Are you an urban scientist or an urban whore?”

Editors on SciAm removed the post, sparking bloggers to rally behind her on Twitter under the hashtag #standingwithdnlee. By far the most viewed forum on Biology-Online.org is now "When it is okay to call a scientist a whore?"

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“@sciam is a publication for discovering science,” Scientific American editor Mariette DiChristina explained in a Twitter post Saturday morning as public responses mounted. “The post was not appropriate for this area & was therefore removed.”

However, bloggers are reportedly in control of their content, says SciAm blogger Melanie Tannenbaum, a doctoral candidate in social psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“We are given full editorial control in our contracts. I could literally post only cat pics if I wanted,” tweeted Tannenbaum.

SciAm writer Dana Hunter published a piece 20 hours ago, that editor’s haven’t deleted yet, titled “I’m #standingwithDNLee – Why Isn’t SciAm?”

“This is completely unacceptable behavior from a blog network,” Hunter wrote. “So let me demonstrate a little something: when someone does something wrong, you do not throttle the people speaking out against it even when you are partners.”

Sources: Raw Story, Wired