For the first time in 30-something years, I’m working an ACS national meeting from the other side. Many science writers have made this same passage in the past ― from daily journalism into public affairs, public information, public relations. More journalists will do so in the future as the new media continues to take its toll on the old. Newspapers and other old media are downsizing as readers and advertisers turn to the Internet for news and entertainment. Newspapers are singing the budget blues and shedding employees. Cutting a whole bureau – in the state capitol, Washington, D. C. or overseas – saves a bundle of money in one swoop.
I crossed over to the ACS Office of Communications as a senior science writer in March, after my company closed its Washington Bureau and fired the employees. This company was very good to me, especially during the reign of a publisher who held a Ph.D. in chemistry and did research in his own laboratory. Paul Block Jr. synthesized analogs of thyroid hormones and was the world authority in this niche in synthetic organic chemistry.
How many science writers work for an individual who publishes newspapers and his own articles in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, the Journal of the American Chemical Society and even gets cited in the New England Journal of Medicine? To me, it was the best science writing job in the country, and continued as such even after Block died and his son assumed control. It offered rare opportunities that included travel on assignments literally from the South Pole to within a shiver of the North Pole.
So what is it really like here on the other side of this critical endeavor of communicating science to the public? This is the perfect time to share that experience, with the ACS Office of Communications approaching one of its busiest periods in preparing news media resources for a national meeting.
My next post will be a view from the other side of the ACS’s 232nd National Meeting in San Francisco. It will be a prelude to my reporting from national meeting events, including some exciting technical sessions at this scientific extravaganza. Tune in tomorrow when I raise the curtain on the distinctly different culture over here.
-- Michael Woods