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ACS News

From The SCENEs

by Rudy M. Baum
July 7, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 27

In this issue, we introduce a new weekly feature, From the SCENEs, to the print edition of C&EN (see page 31). From the SCENEs adds significant coverage of the outstanding science being reported in the American Chemical Society’s 45 journals to C&EN’s print edition.

We created From the SCENEs in response to data we collected in an extensive strategic analysis of C&EN’s content and reader preferences conducted in late 2013 and early 2014. The analysis involved six focus groups of C&EN readers and an electronic survey of several thousand readers. From the analysis, we learned a great deal about what you like and don’t like about C&EN—both our print and electronic editions—as well as our website, the CENtral Science blog network, and the C&EN Mobile app that we are using to shape our delivery of content.

One point came through loud and clear: C&EN readers come to the magazine, first and foremost, for our timely and accurate coverage of science and technology. “More science!” was the message delivered again and again by readers we surveyed. From the SCENEs is our first new feature to respond to that message.

Notice that I emphasized “print edition” in announcing this new feature. That’s because the first two SCENEs—Analytical and Environmental—were created in 2010 by C&EN’s Journal News & Community group to showcase research being reported in the ACS journals Analytical Chemistry and Environmental Science & Technology. The news stories on this research appeared on the journal home pages and on C&EN’s Latest News.

Since then, we have created four additional SCENEs—focused on biological, organic, materials, and nano topics—that appear on the home pages of 38 ACS journals. Senior Editor Michael Torrice and Associate Editor Corinna Wu identify exciting papers appearing in ACS journals and work with talented freelance science journalists to produce the stories appearing in the SCENEs. Because our readers asked for more science in C&EN, we decided to place some of this outstanding content into our print edition.

Things happen quickly in the digital world. Some experiments succeed, some fail, and some that initially succeed run their course and need to be retired. Such is the case with C&EN’s blog network, CENtral Science. Launched in March 2010, CENtral Science eventually comprised 11 blogs, some of which gained a respectable number of followers. However, most of the CENtral Science blogs never engendered the kind of “conversation” with readers that is the hallmark of successful blogs, so we decided to retire the network, effective June 30, to allow the C&EN staff members who contributed to the blogs to focus on other projects.

Taking CENtral Science’s place is one of our blogs that did spark reader interest and interaction, The Safety Zone, in which C&EN Senior Editor Jyllian Kemsley covers chemical safety issues in academic and industrial research labs. Chemical safety is a topic that should be of concern to all C&EN readers, and the information Kemsley provides is an important resource for the chemistry community. Check her recent posts on the resolution of the felony case against UCLA chemistry professor Patrick Harran in the death of research assistant Sheharbano (Sheri) Sangji from a 2008 lab fire to get a sense of the reaction of the chemistry community to the deal reached between Harran and the Los Angeles district attorney.

Many C&EN reporters are experimenting with using new channels to communicate with readers. Several are producing videos to complement their print stories, and you can access them on C&EN’s YouTube channel (

Senior Editor Carmen Drahl and Associate Editor Lauren Wolf have developed another such vehicle, Speaking of Chemistry, the fourth episode of which has just been posted. In either video or audio podcast format, Drahl, Wolf, and other C&EN reporters discuss the science behind some of C&EN’s most interesting stories. Still other online experiments that you should check out are our Tumblr blogs The Watch Glass and Chemistry In Pictures.

There’s a lot going on at C&EN. Thanks for exploring.



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