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UNLV dropping ‘The Believer’ literary magazine after editor’s departure

Updated October 19, 2021 - 5:56 pm

UNLV will cease publication of “The Believer” literary magazine in the spring following the resignation of its editor-in-chief amid allegations that he exposed himself on a video conference call with colleagues.

The final edition, number 139, is scheduled for publication in February/March 2022, the university’s College of Liberal Arts announced Tuesday.

The College of Liberal Arts is “analyzing the handful of full-time positions supporting the magazine’s publication, and we haven’t determined what role they will play moving forward,” spokeswoman Karyn Hollingsworth said via email Tuesday.

But many of the staff members are freelance employees on contract, she said, “so this type of business decision isn’t unfamiliar to them.”

The decision to end publication is part of a “strategic realignment” within the college and the Black Mountain Institute “as it emerges from the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the college said in a news release.

The magazine was in print for two decades and came under the college’s umbrella about four years ago.

“This was not an easy decision but a necessary one, unfortunately,” College of Liberal Arts Dean Jennifer Keene said in the release.

“The Believer” took a significant portion of the Black Mountain Institute’s resources, she said.

“After reviewing the data with internal and external stakeholders, it was clear that there was no path forward to continue publishing the magazine,” Keene said. “Print publications in general have been facing increasing headwinds in recent years, which makes them a financially challenging endeavor.”

Joshua Wolf Shenk, the magazine’s editor-in-chief and executive director of the Black Mountain Institute, resigned in March. That followed a February incident where he reportedly exposed himself to staff members while soaking in a bathtub during a Zoom video conference.

Shenk’s attorney said at the time that his client was soaking in Epsom salts to alleviate fibromyalgia pain during the Zoom call and inadvertently exposed himself after excusing himself from the meeting for a moment but neglecting to turn off the camera.

That account was challenged in an “open letter” ostensibly posted on the Medium website by anonymous current and former employees of the Black Mountain Institute. The letter alleged that while the incident “may not have been intentional,” it was “the culmination of a years-long pattern of inappropriate and disrespectful behavior” by Shenk.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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