Some of us are already following the fascinating debate over the dumbing
of "Birding" and the ABA in the US, but I forward this for those who do
not know. The debate has apparently taken over most of the bird lists
over there. It is difficult to understand what is going on. They have an
embarrassment of richness in the United States: the ABA has over 20,000
members. Apparently, birding is getting bigger and bigger every day and
they are going for the dude-end of the market and pushing the serious
birder to one side.
P.S. If you haven't received a reply from me, I lost much mail when the
my last server died.
"Eagles may soar but weasels do not get sucked into jet engines."
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[BIRDCHAT] ABA and Paul Lehman
"Robert H. Lewis" <>
Mon, 23 Jun 1997 10:35:57 -0400
My email server went down late Friday afternoon, as is normal. However, it
stayed down all weekend, which is not normal. Sunday night I decided to use
my other, web server account to read the last few days worth of BirdChat on
the web. To my surprise and horror, I learned that Paul Lehman had been fired
from the editorship of Birding. Sort of a 1990's version of the "Saturday
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, but I am. It's like when a loved one
dies who's been suffering some a fatal disease for some time -- it's still a
shock, no matter how rationally predictable. The message being sent by this
action comes through loud and clear. Obviously, the ABA is dead for all real
purposes. Obviously, it has been taken over somehow by people who are not
dedicated hard-core birders. They have another agenda entirely. It would be
nice to learn exactly how this happened. What were the flaws in the ABA
governance structure that allowed such a travesty? Nice topic for a master's
thesis for somebody.
Though I said it before here during the threads on the ABA last October and
again last April, I want to say again how much I appreciate the high quality
of editorship that Paul Lehman (and Shawneen Finnegan) brought to Birding. He
turned it into a journal to rival the best European birding magazines while at
the same time expanding the membership. A very tough act to follow. And,
obviously, it is not intended that it be followed in any real sense.
I will certainly be writing letters, as others have suggested. Rick Blom is
right, as usual, that resigning from the ABA doesn't seem to be the best idea
yet. Here are a few other ideas:
(1) A committee of 100 (or 200) to produce mass mailings to all ABA members
explaining why the firing is an abomination. I'm not sure it would do much
good, but it might. Though I know little of such things, spreading the cost
among 100 or so people ought to make it bearable.
(2) A web page listing alternatives to ABA Sales. This information would also
go into the mailing to all the members. In general, a counter-ABA web page.
(3) Unless I am mistaken, someone mentioned recently that "Field Notes"
(a.k.a. American Birds) is going to be taken over by the ABA. Apparently this
was also decided very recently. I (and I know others) suggested this a number
of months ago when the Audubon Society was the object of our loathing, but
now, of course, things have changed. I think the 50 of so Regional Editors
should be made aware of the Lehman firing as soon as possible (if they do not
already know). I would be very surprised if any of them is paid. I think a
united message from them would be very helpful.
For a pithy quote to close with, how about this one (can't remember the
source): "The alarmists are always right."
Sleepy Hollow NY
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