I remember being dismayed in 2013 when I received a notice from New York magazine that it was ceasing weekly print publication and going to biweekly—from 42 issues down to 26 a year. As recompense, the magazine promised more digital offerings.
At first, I felt I was getting cheated, but now, I’m used to it, and I even wonder how I had time to read that magazine every week. And I do dip into the online content from time to time.
This editorial appears in the June 19/26 issue of C&EN, 1 of 10 combined (or double) issues we will publish this year. We also won’t publish a Dec. 25 issue. We added 3 of these combined issues under duress earlier this year, when we faced a staffing crunch. But as I’ve noted in this space before, we’ve been hiring, and I don’t anticipate having to double up again this year beyond those combo issues that have already been scheduled.
Ultimately, we will print 41 issues in 2023, putting us firmly in the weekly magazine category. It’s a shrinking club. The New Yorker is still weekly, as is Bloomberg Businessweek and some newspaper magazines. But there’s no more weekly Time or Newsweek. Our friends at Chemical Week published 26 times last year. There just aren’t many of us left.
Our readers like that we are weekly. In a reader survey completed in August 2022, 70% of respondents said their ideal frequency for C&EN is weekly. Publishing every other week was the ideal for 22% of respondents, and only 8% desired a monthly, quarterly, or some other format. Perhaps these results aren’t surprising; after all, who doesn’t like getting more for their subscription money—or, in our case, their American Chemical Society membership dues?
Still, the fact is that C&EN won’t be weekly forever.
We are beginning to map out our editorial calendar for 2024, and our current plan is to publish 41 issues, or even a few more. The picture gets cloudy as we look further out. Publishing frequency is a complex topic for C&EN that involves the interests of our readers, our editorial staff, our advertising sales team, ACS’s membership department, and our financial minders. But I would be surprised if we are still weekly in 2025.
Like New York magazine did, C&EN would counter a decrease in print frequency with an increase in digital offerings. We already offer podcasts, a constantly updated website, and weekly email newsletters for members and nonmembers. A nonweekly future would likely include more newsletters that will deliver stories on targeted topics such as business, policy, and science. The quantity and quality of our content wouldn’t change, just the delivery mechanisms.
It will be a significant shift when it happens, and we want to do it right so that—as is the case today—many ACS members still call C&EN the most important benefit of membership.
Meanwhile, enjoy the double issue in your hands or on your screen. It’s packed with great news and feature stories. The lead news story (page 4) discloses the winner of the 2024 Priestley Medal, chemistry’s highest honor after the Nobel Prize. Gina Vitale’s cover story (page 32) delves thoroughly into the emerging therapeutic realm of cancer vaccines.
The features section contains Alex Tullo’s deeply researched infographic charting the evolution of six major chemical companies (page 15). It’s part of our centennial celebration. Krystal Vasquez explores the challenges of siting scientific conferences in a divided US ( page 25). And in a piece that first appeared in the journal ACS Central Science, Prachi Patel looks at efforts to develop new materials for space travel and exploration (page 22).
Double or not, it’s a great issue.
Views expressed on this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of ACS.