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Thanks For Reading, Again

by Rudy M. Baum
December 1, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 48

I ’ve had a number of occasions over the past eight months to observe that it’s unusual in life to get to do something for the last time a second time. Since becoming C&EN’s acting editor-in-chief in late March, I’ve done just that a number of times. With this editorial, I’m doing something for the last time a second time for the last time. As of today, Bibiana Campos-Seijo takes over as C&EN editor-in-chief, and this will be my last editorial. My first last editorial, entitled “Thanks For Reading,” appeared in the Sept. 17, 2012, issue.

We’ve been busy at C&EN the past eight months. We completed a comprehensive strategic analysis of our content that began under previous Editor-in-chief A. Maureen Rouhi, who in March became the director of editorial and business development for C&EN in Asia. The strategic analysis consisted of six focus groups—three in Philadelphia and three in San Francisco—and a detailed questionnaire that went out electronically to more than 20,000 ACS members.

What were the take-home lessons from the strategic analysis?

More science and technology coverage.

More news.

Shorter is better.

Improve C&EN’s website.

We heard you and acted. On July 7, we introduced a new weekly feature, From the SCENEs (which, for a number of reasons, does not appear in this week’s issue). From the SCENEs is produced by C&EN’s Journal News & Community group and adds significant coverage of the outstanding science being reported in the American Chemical Society’s 47 journals to C&EN’s print edition. The feature draws material from the six SCENE news channels focused on analytical, environmental, biological, organic, materials, and nano topics. 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.

On July 14, we introduced a digital-first news workflow to make the creation of the Latest News component of C&EN’s website more efficient and responsive to breaking developments in the chemistry enterprise. C&EN’s news editor, Bill Schulz, now conducts a daily news meeting with C&EN’s four assistant managing editors responsible for our coverage of business; government and policy; science, technology, and education; and ACS news and special features. We have three “windows” for filing breaking news stories and are committed to posting stories within two-and-a-half hours after they are filed.

We’ve also embarked on the lengthy and challenging process of implementing a redesign of the print edition of C&EN and re-engineering/redesigning C&EN’s website. As C&EN Creative Director Rob Bryson writes in his creative brief for the print redesign: “Chemical & Engineering News is due for a redesign. The magazine has had its current design for more than seven-and-a-half years, and it has become dated and constrictive. C&EN is in need of a new look that freshens up its image and allows for more flexibility in laying out its pages. This redesign will also offer the chance to examine what is working and what isn’t for the design and production of the publication and to create a publication that better serves the content delivered in its pages.”

The goal of reengineering/redesigning C&EN’s website is to decouple it from the print edition and make the site much more dynamic. As C&EN Online Editor Rachel Pepling puts it in her creative brief: “We want C&EN’s website to offer readers a selection of what the editorial team thinks is most important and most interesting right now, regardless of whether it’s a print feature, a daily news story, or a digital-only offering.”

These projects won’t come to fruition until late 2015 or early 2016. Campos-Seijo and I have been discussing them regularly since she was named C&EN’s new editor-in-chief in August, and she is excited about taking over the reins here and putting her stamp on all aspects of the C&EN brand. I’m looking forward to helping her make the transition, and, for a second time, taking up my role as C&EN editor-at-large.

Thanks for reading, again.

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


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