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Innovation At C&EN

by Rudy Baum
March 31, 2008 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 86, Issue 13

THE 235TH ACS National Meeting officially kicks off on Sunday in New Orleans. Many governance functions, however, occur this week, beginning on Wednesday.

The C&EN Editorial Board will meet early on Friday morning, as it does at every national meeting. At each meeting of the editorial board, I report on significant activities at the magazine since the board's previous meeting, plans for the coming months, and issues that have arisen that I need guidance on. At this meeting, I plan to focus primarily on a number of innovations we have introduced in the past several months.

One such innovation was introduced in the March 17 issue. For the first time, we published two full pages of Science & Technology Concentrates in an issue. The sci-tech concentrates page has long had the highest readership of any feature in C&EN, and readers and advisers had often suggested adding a second page. We hesitated, however, because these items are not trivial to generate. We now feel we have the resources to produce two pages of sci-tech concentrates every week.

Another important innovation was launched on Monday of this week, the permanent C&EN blog, "C&ENtral Science," which you can access from the home page of C&EN Online at or directly at C&EN has had episodic blogs previously, associated with ACS national meetings and other events. Now it's time for something a little more enduring.

Some of the important features of "C&ENtral Science" include the ability for readers to comment directly on editorials and other features in the magazine; coverage from the ACS national meetings and other meetings; random chemistry tidbits that don't fit into C&EN's traditional departments; observations, photographs, and commentary from C&EN reporters traveling on assignment; and opportunities for readers to contribute their ideas and comments.

"The blog will offer the opportunity to have a conversation with readers," says C&EN Online Editor Rachel Pepling. "In a world of Facebook, YouTube, and Wikipedia, being a passive provider of information doesn't entirely meet the needs of our audience. People have a desire for community and instantaneous feedback. A lot of publications are recognizing that blogs can appeal to a younger, tech-savvy audience while acting as a complement to their print and online editions."

Like all things online, "C&ENtral Science" will evolve over time. We'll add features as we think of them or readers suggest them, and we'll drop things that don't quite work. The writing will be a bit breezier and more conversational than what you find in C&EN itself, but we will maintain the editorial standards you expect from us. Although readers' comments will be posted directly to the blog in real time, we will monitor them for appropriateness and to maintain a civil level of discourse.

Another innovation that I've written about previously is the ACS Careers site on the ACS website, ACS Careers is a collaboration between C&EN's online classified advertising site—what used to be called Chemjobs—and the ACS Department of Career Management & Development. It brings together the quality job listings associated with C&EN classifieds and the broad and comprehensive career management information and tools ACS offers in a single site.

Something else I hope you've noticed over the past few months on C&EN Online is the advent of "contextual advertising" on the site. Contextual advertising matches an advertiser's content to the editorial content of a particular story in C&EN. The advertising links appear in a box to the right of the story—they don't flash, they're not buttons, they just inform the reader that there is additional information about products or services they might find useful. Clicking on the advertiser's link takes the reader to a site created by the advertiser; closing the link takes the reader back to the story in C&EN Online. We think contextual advertising adds important new content to our online stories.

We are committed to continually reinventing C&EN. Innovations such as these are an important part of that commitment.

Thanks for reading.

Views expressed on this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of ACS.


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