Chemical & Engineering News is the newsmagazine of the chemical world and the official organ of the American Chemical Society. Since August 1998, C&EN has existed as both the familiar print magazine that readers have relied on for 83 years for news of the chemical enterprise and as an electronic edition on the Web, C&EN Online.
When C&EN Online debuted, a single staff person-C&EN Online Editor Melody Voith-was responsible for producing it each week. Its content was a direct duplication of the print edition's content, with the added value of numerous links to relevant documents and websites. An especially valuable feature from the outset was free links to the research papers in ACS journals on which C&EN stories were based.
Much has changed in the past eight years. C&EN Online now has a full-time staff of four, still headed by Voith. The site has been redesigned several times. To retrieve data for a talk I am scheduled to give in a couple of weeks, I've recently had occasion to visit many back issues throughout the life of C&EN Online. We have grown a lot in sophistication since our early efforts.
More important, the content of C&EN Online and how we deliver it have also evolved. Two years ago, we began a major effort to post news stories on the website on a daily basis and redesigned the site accordingly. Now, "Latest News" is the centerpiece of the C&EN Online site, and stories are posted daily. Many of the "Latest News" stories make it into the print edition of C&EN, either as "News of the Week" or department stories, but not all do.
An excellent example of the speed and flexibility provided by the Web occurred a couple of weeks ago. C&EN Online broke the story in the U.S. of two Dutch institutions dissociating themselves from Nobel Laureate Peter J. W. Debye because of his alleged collaboration with the Nazis in the late 1930s. News Editor William Schulz researched the story, and we posted an account early on Wednesday, March 1. As Schulz further developed the story and talked to more sources, a more nuanced account of the situation came into focus, and Schulz revised the story for posting later that day. This latter version of the story is the one that appeared in the March 6 print edition of C&EN.
In March and April 2004, C&EN Hong Kong Bureau Head Jean-Fran??ois Tremblay traveled more than 1,000 miles down the Yangtze River in China to report on the chemical industry there. His feature article on the subject appeared in the April 26, 2004, issue of C&EN (page 14). During his trip, however, he filed a series of more personal accounts of his travels, which appeared as a Web log, or blog, only on C&EN Online.
We are now experimenting with blogs in a more coordinated fashion. Associate Editor Bethany Halford and Assistant Editor Rachel Petkewich, assisted by C&EN Online Associate Editor Rachel Pepling, filed daily blog entries from the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in St. Louis in February. These delightful vignettes covered topics as diverse as the impact of Title IX on the scientific enterprise, Family Science Day at the meeting, and tchotchkes being distributed at the meeting's exposition. (You can still read the AAAS Meeting Blog in the "Latest News" archive.) Several members of the C&EN team who will be covering the ACS national meeting in Atlanta later this month will be filing blog entries. Look for the ACS meeting blog beginning March 26.
And there is much, much more. The tables in last year's Facts & Figures feature are downloadable as CSV files and can be viewed and manipulated in spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel. You can download C&EN Online to your PDA. You can sign up for an RSS feed from C&EN Online to alert you to "Latest News" stories when they are posted. "Reel Science" keeps you informed of news and reviews of science in film, and it is only available on the Web. Popular features such as "What's That Stuff?" (now up to 47 features on the chemistry of everyday products), "Critter Chemistry," and "NanoFocus" pull together C&EN's rich archive of content on a variety of subjects in an easily accessible form.
Take another look at C&EN Online at www.cen-online.org. I think you'll find yourself hooked.
Thanks for reading.