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Next Stop: Asia

by A. Maureen Rouhi
March 31, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 13

R&D in Asia is growing at a rapid rate. At the American Chemical Society, evidence of that comes from the publishing services: Submissions to ACS journals from India, South Korea, and China grew at annual compounded rates of 17.3%, 16.6%, and 14.7%, respectively, compared with 5.4% from the U.S., during 2008–12. Researchers in Asia are significant users of ACS information services, including SciFinder. The databases that underpin SciFinder increasingly are based on molecules discovered in Asia. China now leads the world in patent filings.

With its mission to serve chemists worldwide, ACS has been intensifying its focus on Asia. In 2013, the society established an office in Beijing. This year, it aims to expand activities in China and establish a physical presence in India. And it is investing in C&EN’s ability to cover the Asian chemistry enterprise and reach Asian audiences.

I have been selected to lead C&EN’s physical presence in Asia as the director of editorial and business development for C&EN Asia. This position involves enhancing C&EN’s coverage of Asia using Asia-based talent, developing C&EN editorial products for Asian markets, and participating in efforts to deepen ACS’s presence in Asia. My new role takes effect immediately. I am writing here as C&EN’s editor-in-chief for the last time.

C&EN occupies a unique place in science news publications, with its unparalleled excellence in print journalism evident in every issue, especially the 90th anniversary issue, published on Sept. 9, 2013. Yet it aims always higher. My 18-month tenure at the helm was highly innovative, thanks to talented staff, who are taking C&EN to the next level of excellence. Some are experimenting with storytelling, from long-form narrative features to highly condensed “charticles.” Others are using social media to find beyond-the-usual-suspects sources for stories, or they are harnessing the unique capabilities of digital platforms, such as interactive graphics. Still others are inventing new ways to engage the audience, including online quizzes. And C&EN-produced videos complement articles with increasing frequency. We accomplished these with no additional resources, driven only by the desire to engage readers however they access C&EN.

Like other news organizations, C&EN is buffeted by the shifting media landscape, changing reader demographics, evolving information consumption habits, and declining revenue from advertising. Aware of these external forces, C&EN staff under my leadership last year completed a strategic plan that aims to enhance C&EN’s value while ensuring its financial sustainability. Efforts to augment revenues are already under way in the form of new products developed under the leadership of C&EN Publisher Kevin Davies. Print supplements debuted with the March 3, 2014, issue.

Last year I commissioned a strategic review of the publication to determine how to make C&EN maximally compelling in all formats—print, online, and mobile. The preliminary results indicate various steps C&EN can take to make it even more valuable to readers and to ACS. I am proud for planting the seeds and enabling the gathering of actionable data that will shape C&EN’s further growth and evolution.

ACS will immediately undertake an international search for C&EN’s next editor-in-chief. Meanwhile, C&EN’s evolution will continue, guided by my predecessor, Rudy Baum, who has agreed to serve as acting editor-in-chief until my successor is appointed. Baum will work with the C&EN management team and all C&EN staff to continue taking C&EN to the next level of excellence. I wish them good luck.

Serving as C&EN’s editor-in-chief has been a great privilege, and I thank you for reading C&EN week after week. Looking ahead, I see my new role as bringing me full circle to my cultural and geographic roots. More important, it will advance the efforts of ACS and C&EN to grow their presence in a part of the world that has become a dynamic hub for the chemistry enterprise. I embrace my new role with the same passion for excellence in journalism and dedication to serve readers and ACS members that I had while at the helm of C&EN. I look forward to bringing C&EN to Asia and serving you from there.

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


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