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Redesigned and Refocused

by Rudy M. Baum
March 29, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 13

On this week's issue date, March 29, C&EN Online launched a completely redesigned home page. C&EN Online debuted in August 1998, and the home page has been redesigned several times, as is common in the online world. This redesign, however, is by far the most significant in the six-year history of C&EN Online because, with it, we have completely refocused our approach to bringing you breaking news of the chemical enterprise.

Since C&EN is a weekly news magazine, when we launched C&EN Online, it conformed entirely to the weekly rhythm of the print magazine. C&EN Online then had a staff of one--Online Editor Melody Voith. It was her full-time job to post the editorial content of C&EN on the Web each week, augmented with a rich array of links to ACS journal articles and business, government, and academic websites.

Voith is still the editor of C&EN Online, but she now has a full-time staff of four working with her. Over the past two years, we have increasingly focused on posting new material every day, in some cases stories scheduled for the following week's print edition as they reached their final, edited form as well as "online exclusive" stories. With our new home page, we have refocused C&EN Online on reporting the latest news that's important to you every day.

"The immediacy of online news and reader feedback were the driving factors in our new look," Voith says. "Our surveys have shown that what readers really want to see on C&EN Online is more content, especially up-to-date content that is not available in print. Our new home page will help you focus on what is fresh and new."

Take a look at the new home page at Front and center is the "Latest News," where we will be posting at least two, and usually more, stories daily. As before, some of these will be stories scheduled for the following Monday's print issue, but many others will be reports of breaking news, often from C&EN reporters attending conferences and meetings, filing live from the event.

We have refocused C&EN Online on reporting the latest news that's important to you every day.

As Voith points out, a major report from the "Project On Excellence In Journalism" found that, of the large online news sites studied, only about one-third of the lead articles posted were produced by the organization's own staff. Even with the expansion of coverage on the "Latest News" section of C&EN Online, you can be sure that everything you read has been researched and written by C&EN's staff of more than 50 writers and editors, the world's largest and most experienced team of journalists covering the chemical enterprise.

These changes to C&EN Online do not come without some soul-searching and a lot of internal discussion at C&EN. We are adamant about our commitment to accuracy and balance. Committing to daily posting of a number of new stories changes the rhythm of how all of us do our jobs in significant ways. We have talked long and hard about bringing C&EN's commitment to and reputation for excellence in our journalism to this accelerated news cycle. These discussions have involved every member of C&EN's staff.

There's one other new feature on C&EN Online that I want to bring to your attention--the travelogue by C&EN Hong Kong Bureau Head Jean-François Tremblay, who has embarked on a 1,000-mile trip down China's Yangtze River, reporting on the chemical industry along this vital waterway. Tremblay's first story on companies along the Yangtze, specifically in the city of Chongqing, appears in this week's issue of C&EN (see page 14). His travelogue, which began appearing on C&EN Online two weeks ago, is a much more personal account of a reporter's adventures and misadventures pursuing stories in a fascinating and challenging locale. Tremblay's travelogue is a C&EN Online exclusive.

I urge you to go online and spend some time with C&EN Online. It truly is an essential complement to the print edition of C&EN.

Thanks for reading.



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