Part­ing is sweet sor­row

Cosmos - - Contents -

TIME TO HAND IN my captain’s epaulettes.

From 1 Septem­ber, Cos­mos will be un­der the il­lus­tri­ous stew­ard­ship of the Royal In­sti­tu­tion of Aus­tralia. A not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion ded­i­cated to ex­cel­lence in science com­mu­ni­ca­tion, Ri­aus of­fers a sparkling fu­ture for the mag­a­zine.

There will be con­ti­nu­ity. The mas­ter­ful Bill Condie, for­mer pub­lisher at Cos­mos, is head of pub­lish­ing at Ri­aus. Tess War­dle, our cur­rent and highly able pub­lisher, will bed down the new en­ter­prise. You’ll also con­tinue to en­joy the craft and eru­di­tion of ed­i­tor An­drew Master­son as he de­liv­ers en­thralling sto­ries across the spectrum of science and so­ci­ety. An­drew Pat­ter­son will con­tinue look­ing af­ter sub­scribers and op­ti­mis­ing Cos­mos on­line.

The mag­a­zine will of course con­tinue to show­case our stel­lar con­trib­u­tors. And I will keep con­tribut­ing as an ‘ed­i­tor-at-large’.

I want to thank all our read­ers, es­pe­cially the ones who over my five-year ten­ure have ex­pressed their ap­pre­ci­a­tion of Cos­mos with hand-writ­ten let­ters, emails or words – like Mel­bourne banker Har­ri­son Young, 12-year-old NSW stu­dent Phoebe Coren and Pe­dro Agadon, serv­ing time in Hong Kong.

Their ex­pres­sions have been a tonic. Not just be­cause it’s nice to know you’re ap­pre­ci­ated. But be­cause the se­cret of good com­mu­ni­ca­tion is to know your au­di­ence. Know­ing that our sto­ries res­onate for a banker, a stu­dent and an in­mate is deeply rewarding and con­firms my be­lief that well­told science sto­ries can en­gage a di­verse au­di­ence.

I am proud of the 29 mag­a­zine is­sues we have pro­duced un­der my watch, of the great sto­ries we’ve cov­ered in words and pic­tures, and of the writ­ers we’ve helped de­velop like the stun­ning Cathal O’con­nell. Thanks go to the team of ed­i­tors past, in­clud­ing Bill Condie, James Mitchell Crow, Belinda Smith, Tim Wal­lace, and those present, Michael Lucy and An­drew Master­son. And a huge round of ap­plause for the art di­rec­tors whose artis­tic vi­sions have won the mag­a­zine so much ac­claim: Robyn Ad­derly for the first 23 is­sues and for the past six, Sahm Keily. But there’s no rest­ing on lau­rels. I heeded the call to de­fend jour­nal­is­tic and sci­en­tific prin­ci­ples a few weeks back, chair­ing a ses­sion at the By­ron Bay Writ­ers Fes­ti­val. One of my pan­el­lists, Carey Gil­lam, was the au­thor of White­wash, an ex­posé of Mon­santo’s al­leged at­tempts to cover up the link be­tween the her­bi­cide glyphosate and non-hodgkin lym­phoma.

Yet this May, a 25-year study of 57,000 Amer­i­can farm­ers by the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health, the ‘Agri­cul­tural Health Study’, found no such link. When I brought up this ev­i­dence, a mem­ber of the au­di­ence ac­tu­ally tried to shout me down.

Ra­tio­nal, ev­i­dence-based dis­course is un­der threat ev­ery­where. Our mis­sion as science com­mu­ni­ca­tors has never been more poignant.

EL­IZ­A­BETH FINKEL Ed­i­tor-in- chief

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