Michael Balter

Michael Balter is an American science journalist. His writings primarily cover anthropology, archaeology, mental health and sexual harassment in science.[1][2]

Balter was a correspondent for Science magazine for over 25 years,[3] before being controversially dismissed in 2016.[4][5] He has also written for Scientific American,[6] Audubon,[7] The Verge,[2] LA Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, and Los Angeles magazine,[8] and taught journalism at New York University, Boston University and City College of New York.[9]

Education and early careerEdit

Born on the Alaskan Aleutian Islands, Balter grew up in Los Angeles and studied at the University of California, Los Angeles and San Jose State University.[8] He obtained his master's degree in biology from UCLA in 1977.[8] As a student, Balter was involved in far-left politics and especially the movement opposing the Vietnam War.[8][10] He was conscripted into the US Army and stationed at Fort Ord, where he and other members of the radical Progressive Labor Party, which aimed to "subvert and destroy [the military] from within", attempted to organize resistance to the war amongst soldiers.[10] He was court-martialed twice, once for distributing anti-war literature,[10] and once for disrupting a training exercise.[10][11]

Balter began his journalism career writing for newspapers based in Los Angeles, including LA Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, and Los Angeles magazine.[8] In the 1990s he relocated to Paris, where he was a foreign correspondent for several American newspapers and magazines, and began writing for Science magazine.[8]

Science journalismEdit

Science magazineEdit

Balter wrote for Science for over 25 years,[4] primarily covering anthropology and archaeology.[8] He was the chief of its Paris bureau between 1993 and 2002.[8] His contract with Science was terminated in 2016, shortly after he wrote a piece about allegations of sexual misconduct against American anthropologist Brian Richmond.[4][5] Balter claimed that his dismissal was in reaction to this piece,[4][5] which was the subject of what he described as a "tense, sometimes bruising behind-the-scenes conflict with [Science's] editors".[12] He also highlighted previous conflicts with the magazine, including a leave of absence he took in protest of its firing of four women, and a blog post he wrote that was critical of Marcia McNutt, its then editor-in-chief.[5] The American Association for the Advancement of Science, which publishes Science, denied that the Richmond piece was a factor in its decision to terminate Balter's freelance contract with the magazine.[4][5][13]

The Goddess and the BullEdit

The Goddess and the Bull: Çatalhöyük – An Archaeological Journey to the Dawn of Civilization
 
AuthorMichael Balter
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
PublisherFree Press (Simon & Schuster)
Publication date
2006
ISBN9780743243605
OCLC883184058

Balter's book The Goddess and the Bull: Çatalhöyük – An Archaeological Journey to the Dawn of Civilization was published in 2006. It is a "biographical" account of Çatalhöyük, a Neolithic archaeological site in Turkey, and its history of investigation: the discovery and first excavations at the site by James Mellaart in the 1960s, and the project directed by Ian Hodder that was ongoing at the time the book was written.[14] The book received positive reviews in both popular magazines[14][15] and academic journals.[16][17][18]

Sexual harassmentEdit

Since leaving Science, Balter has worked as a freelance journalist.[19] He writes about sexual harassment and the Me Too movement in science, often self-publishing these stories on his blog.[19] He has also written for Scientific American,[6] Audubon, and The Verge.[2][8]

In 2019, he wrote about allegations of misconduct by French paleoanthropologist Jean-Jacques Hublin, leading to a boycott of the annual conference of the European Society for the Study of Human Evolution, of which Hublin is the president.[20] In 2020, he was sued for defamation by UC Santa Barbara anthropologist Danielle Kurin, after Balter reported allegations of sexual harassment against her and her partner, Enmanuel Gomez Choque.[9]

Balter was ejected from the 2019 meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) after he attempted to remove David Yesner, a former archaeology professor who had been dismissed from the University of Alaska Anchorage for "decades of sexual misconduct",[21] from the conference venue.[22][23][24] Balter had traveled to the meeting to appear on a panel on the Me Too movement in archaeology.[22][23] The SAA was strongly criticized for its handling of the incident.[25][26]

National Association of Science Writers ResignationEdit

Balter resigned from the National Association of Science Writers (NASW) in April 2021, following a misconduct complaint submitted against him by eleven other members of the organization.[27] He had been a member of the NASW since 1986.[28][29] Following his resignation, he claimed that the due process of the NASW's investigation had been compromised and he denied the misconduct charges against him.[30][31]

Selected publicationsEdit

  • Balter, Michael (2005). The Goddess and the Bull: Çatalhöyük – An Archaeological Journey to the Dawn of Civilization. New York, NY: Free Press. ISBN 978-0743243605.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Articles by Michael Balter". Pacific Standard. Retrieved 2020-07-13.
  2. ^ a b c "Michael Balter Archives". SAPIENS. Retrieved 2020-07-13.
  3. ^ "Michael Balter". Science. 2013-03-11. Retrieved 2020-07-13.
  4. ^ a b c d e Feltman, Rachel (March 11, 2016). "Science Magazine ends contract of the reporter behind major probe of sexual assault". The Washington Post.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Science Mag axes Michael Balter after 25 years, Denies it was over Sexual Misconduct story". iMediaEthics. 2016-04-30. Retrieved 2020-07-13.
  6. ^ a b "Stories by Michael Balter". Scientific American. Retrieved 2020-07-13.
  7. ^ "Michael Balter". Audubon. 2015-01-07. Retrieved 2021-04-27.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i "About the Author". MichaelBalter.com. Retrieved 2020-07-13.
  9. ^ a b Swartz, Katherine; Abrams, Max (July 11, 2020). "UCSB Asst. Professor Sues Journalist for Defamation Over Reportings About Title IX Violations". The Daily Nexus.
  10. ^ a b c d Balter, Michael (2019-02-25). "What I Did in the War". Medium. Retrieved 2020-07-13.
  11. ^ United States Congress, House Internal Security (1972). Investigation of Attempts to Subvert the United States Armed Services. pp. 7219–7231.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  12. ^ Balter, Michael (2016-03-11). "Balter's Blog: Why did @sciencemagazine terminate me after 25 years of service?". Balter's Blog. Retrieved 2020-07-13.
  13. ^ "AAAS Statement on Michael Balter". American Association for the Advancement of Science. March 11, 2016. Retrieved 2020-07-13.
  14. ^ a b "Goddess & the Bull: Catalhoyuk". Current World Archaeology. No. 9. January 4, 2005.
  15. ^ Saunders, Nicholas (January 12, 2005). "The Goddess and the Bull, Catalhoyuk by Michael Balter". New Scientist.
  16. ^ Marciniak, Arkadiusz (2008). "Michael Balter, The Goddess and the Bull. Çatalhöyük – An Archaeological Journey to the Dawn of Civilization". European Journal of Archaeology. 11 (2–3): 279–281. doi:10.1179/eja.2008.11.2-3.279. ISSN 1461-9571. S2CID 161398651.
  17. ^ Schulting, Rick (2007). "Review of The Goddess and the Bull; Çatalhöyük: An Archaeological Journey to the Dawn of Civilization". Canadian Journal of Archaeology. 31 (2): 280–283. ISSN 0705-2006. JSTOR 41103311.
  18. ^ Fairbairn, Andrew S. (2007). "Review of 'The Goddess and the Bull: Catalhoyuk: An Archaeological Journey to the Dawn of Civilisation' by Michael Balter". Australian Archaeology. pp. 54–56. Retrieved 2020-09-14.
  19. ^ a b Balter, Michael (September 4, 2019). "I now publish #MeToo stories on my blog, for free. Here's why". Columbia Journalism Review.
  20. ^ Williams, Shawna (August 30, 2019). "Scholars Boycott Meeting, Citing Misconduct Accusations". The Scientist.
  21. ^ "Title IX investigation reveals decades of sexual misconduct by former UAA professor". KTVA. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
  22. ^ a b Flaherty, Colleen (April 15, 2019). "Archaeology group faces backlash over how it handled known harasser's attendance at meeting". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
  23. ^ a b Grens, Kerry (April 12, 2019). "An Archaeology Meeting Finds Itself in the Middle of #MeTooSTEM". The Scientist. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
  24. ^ Wade, Lizzie (April 19, 2019). "#MeToo controversy erupts at archaeology meeting". Science. 364 (6437): 219–220. Bibcode:2019Sci...364..219W. doi:10.1126/science.364.6437.219. PMID 31000641. S2CID 122541727.
  25. ^ Flaherty, Colleen (August 8, 2019). "Archaeology society continues to anger members with how it responds to negative feedback". Inside Higher Ed.
  26. ^ Bishara, Hakim (April 16, 2019). "2,000 Archaeologists and Scholars Ask Society for American Archaeology to Review Sexual Harassment Policy [UPDATED]". Hyperallergic.
  27. ^ "The (Mis)Adventures of a #MeToo Reporter -- Part One: The reporter, falsely accused, resigns from his professional organization". Retrieved 2022-06-11.
  28. ^ "The (Mis)Adventures of a #MeToo Reporter -- Part One: The reporter, falsely accused, resigns from his professional organization". Retrieved 2022-06-11.
  29. ^ "The (Mis)Adventures of a #MeToo Reporter -- Part Two: Answering Kate Clancy's false and distorted allegations. [Updated Oct 30, 2021]". Retrieved 2022-06-11.
  30. ^ "The (Mis)Adventures of a #MeToo Reporter -- Part One: The reporter, falsely accused, resigns from his professional organization". Retrieved 2022-06-11.
  31. ^ "The (Mis)Adventures of a #MeToo Reporter -- Part Two: Answering Kate Clancy's false and distorted allegations. [Updated Oct 30, 2021]". Retrieved 2022-06-11.