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'CENtral Science'

by Rudy M. Baum
March 15, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 11

C &EN LaunchedC&ENtral Science,” the magazine’s permanent blog, in March 2008, in time for the spring ACS national meeting in New Orleans. A number of C&EN staff members attending the meeting posted blog entries on everything from symposia they had attended to tchotchkes being given out by exhibitors at the meeting exposition. A smattering of readers followed us on the blog.

We created “C&ENtral Science” with a bit of trepidation. There was concern about diverting staff resources from covering hard news of the chemistry enterprise toward what some viewed as ephemera. There were questions about setting priorities. People pointed out that successful blogs often had a snarky tone that we thought was inappropriate for C&EN. Others worried that the lighter, breezier tone we were hoping to achieve on “C&ENtral Science” could detract from the perception of C&EN as a serious newsmagazine.

For the past two years, “C&ENtral Science” has been something of a grabbag. Numerous staff members attending national meetings continued to post on, yes, tchotchkes, dining experiences, and people they ran into on shuttle buses, as well as symposia and governance functions. C&EN’s informal “staff photographer,” Associate Editor Linda Wang, worked with C&EN Online Visual Designer Tchad Blair to create memorable slide shows from the meetings.

Other posts on “C&ENtral Science” ranged from my editorials to serious discussions of lab safety to lighthearted items on almost anything that caught a C&EN staffer’s fancy. One memorable posting—a tribute to Michael Jackson after his death—came from Senior Editor Lisa Jarvis following her two-week fellowship at NSF’s Toolik Field Station in Alaska (see C&ENtral Science, July 6, 2009). In 2009, “C&ENtral Science” had more than 137,000 page views.

Now it’s time for “C&ENtral Science” to evolve to the next level. Jarvis got the discussion going last September with the distribution to C&EN’s senior staff of what I have come to call her “blog manifesto.” In it, she wrote: “The business group had a spontaneous discussion about the future of journalism and social media this week, and one result was a growing desire to allow staff to have their own blogs. The idea is to have a portal that would lead readers to any of several blogs that focus on a particular beat.”

After much discussion and the work of an ad hoc task force led by C&EN Online Editor Rachel Pepling, that’s what will happen. On March 22, in conjunction with the national meeting in San Francisco, “CENtral Science” will relaunch as a portal to, initially, six hosted blogs on the following topics:

Relaunching “CENtral Science” as a portal to several hosted blogs that focus on specific topics of interest to C&EN’s diverse readership is a natural evolution of the site. Since its launch, “CENtral Science” has provided C&EN reporters with an alternative outlet for their natural curiosity and creativity and C&EN readers with another channel to express their opinions.

We hope that the new “CENtral Science” will allow C&EN reporters and the readers who follow their reporting to develop productive relationships in which the flow of information and opinion is truly multidimensional. We hope you will find one or more of the blogs on “CENtral Science” to be of interest and that you will contribute to the content by posting comments on the blogs.

Thanks for reading. And commenting.

Rudy Baum
Editor-in-chief

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