During my time with the Bulletin, one of my favorite questions to ask nuclear experts has been why and how they came to be interested in—and to devote their lives to—nuclear safety and security issues. Sometimes the answer has been unsurprising. As with many a family-run business, nuclear policy and physics careers often have been inspired by an influential parent or grandparent who were also in these fields. Other times, the response has been almost stunning. Last year when I visited CERN, I met a particle physicist who told me that it took a Nobel Prize in Physics, which he received in 1988, before he felt confident enough to take part in the influential Pugwash Conference that brings together experts and public figures to discuss global security threats. Since then, he has been an advocate for nuclear disarmament. He is in his 90s.
By their nature, threats to the existence of humanity are intimidating—as are the conversations surrounding these threats. This is what those who launched the Bulletin in 1945 knew, what every editor since then has understood, and why the publication remains so vital and relevant today.
In 2010, the Bulletin’s editorial staff had left, almost simultaneously, to take other jobs. Thus, when I took over as editor, the masthead had an editorial staff of one: Me. Today—three and half years later—the team consists of five editors, a designer, an Internet outreach guru, and a wonderful support team. The existence of this talented and committed group of journalists has made my decision to leave the Bulletin a bit easier. That is, I know that the conversation between experts and the Bulletin’s wide-ranging audience will continue to flourish.
Over the past few years, the Bulletin has worked hard to improve its footing in a globalized and instant world. Particularly, it has worked diligently to increase international readership, in part by attracting a roster of the world’s top experts in nuclear weapons, nuclear power, climate change, and biological and chemical threats. It has made strides in social media, among other things piloting Twitter projects that promoted our international disarmament roundtables in Arabic and Chinese. Earlier this year, the Bulletin launched a new website, introducing all kinds of new perks for our readers—including artwork from the publication’s storied past, multimedia features, and, most important, comments sections that allow Bulletin readers to communicate directly with one another and with the authors.
While editing the Bulletin, I have been consistently impressed by our expert authors’ devotion to this publication and its issues—and their patience with a stringent editing process. Similarly, I have been awestruck by the talent and dedication of the Bulletin’s staff, a small force that operates with the heft and might of an army; it has been nothing short of an honor to work among such wonderful and inspirational people. I also leave the Bulletin with a true fondness for our Science and Security Board members who have served as my editorial board, offering me advice and education when needed—at any time of the day or night. And, of course, there are no words to explain how grateful I am to the Bulletin’s executive director, Kennette Benedict, who has been both an inspiration and a mentor.
John Mecklin, until now the Bulletin’s deputy editor, will become editor. Without question, the Bulletin is in capable hands. I will continue my commitment to important policy issues and quality journalism at Foreign Policy, where I will become a senior editor at the start of the new year.
I have been privileged to have edited such a wonderful publication. Proud of what was accomplished over the past few years, I am eager to see what greater things the Bulletin will achieve in the coming months and years. A very heartfelt thanks to you, the Bulletin’s readers, for your continued commitment to this very necessary and relevant publication.