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Editorial: What a year

by Michael McCoy
December 18, 2023 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 101, Issue 41


The cover of C&EN's Centennial issue shows many small covers from passt issues of C&EN.
Credit: C&EN
The cover of C&EN’s Aug. 14 Centennial issue

This is C&EN’s last issue of 2023. And for the staff, it has been quite a year.

The story of our year ends well, but it didn’t start that way. When 2023 began, our editor in chief and an executive editor had just been let go, and other staffers were starting to leave of their own accord. It seemed as if we were sinking.

Albert G. Horvath, the CEO of the American Chemical Society, which publishes C&EN, helped right the ship by moving the magazine from the ACS Communications Division, where some of our problems started, back to our previous home in the Publications Division. He also asked me to step in as interim editor in chief.

With the changes, the mood started to improve, and by June we were putting together a special issue to commemorate C&EN’s 100th anniversary—a little something else that happened this year!

We were also eagerly awaiting the arrival of our new editor in chief, Mohammed Yahia. Then tragedy struck: in August, Yahia died en route to ACS Fall 2023 in San Francisco, where he planned to meet staffers and ACS members for the first time.

At C&EN, we felt knocked down just as we were getting on our feet. But as always, deadlines loomed. So we got back to reporting, writing, and publishing news. And even as we grieved, ACS relaunched the search for an editor in chief.

Fast-forward a few months, and we now have one: Nick Ishmael-Perkins, a journalist and former director of the website, will be joining us in February. The story is on page 7. I’m excited, and not only because Ishmael-Perkins will take the reins, letting me return my attention to my primary job as C&EN’s business and policy editor.

We’ve also been rebuilding the staff that was so decimated at the start of the year. Since January, we have brought on five reporters and editors: Brianna Barbu, Chris Gorski, Prachi Patel, Priyanka Runwal, and Krystal Vasquez. Other reporters—Laura Howes, Mitch Jacoby, and Gina Vitale—became editors. And Liam Conlon joined C&EN as our audience engagement editor.

Outside the newsroom, Allison Elliot and David Padgham joined our operations team. Madeline Monroe and Seamus Murphy became members of our creative team. Sharon Jane Chua became publisher, Sara Cottle came aboard as editor of our ACS News section, and Shane M. Hanlon started as executive editor of C&EN BrandLab custom content studio.

And we’re not done. Three new reporters will start in January, and other new staffers will follow.

The hiring recap may seem like inside baseball to some readers, but all these folks play a role in getting C&EN’s stories into your hands—whether they arrive via the print magazine, the digital edition, or our website.

I’m most familiar with the contributions of our new reporters, of which I will share three: Vasquez wrote the Sept. 4 cover story about pressure on the academic tradition of tenure. A month later, Runwal wrote a cover story on controversial plans to mine the ocean floor for valuable metals like nickel and cobalt. The following week, Barbu contributed a cover story on temporary implants that dissolve in the body. I think our new reporters are off to a great start.

Nothing is ever perfect, but I feel confident in saying that for C&EN, the year is ending much better than it began. Many of us will be off the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Then we will be back in 2024 to bring you more news of the chemistry world.

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


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