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Pressroom Perspectives: Mining Journals for Science News

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If there’s a prize for reading a lot of scientific journal articles, our team in the Science Communications unit in the American Chemical Society Office of Public Affairs might be among the front runners. I thought I did a lot of reading during an earlier career in the National Press Building as science editor in the Washington Bureau of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Toledo Blade. Everything from Science, Nature, and the Journal of the American Chemical Society to the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, and The Lancet.

But the transition to the ACS in 2006 ― after the economic crunch in print journalism closed the bureau ― gave new meaning to the science writer’s bread-and-butter task of mining journals for news. Our team here at the world’s largest scientific society read more than 35,000 journal articles last year and will breeze through almost 36,000 in 2012. That’s almost 150 articles today and each day of the work week. ACS publishes those 35,000+ articles in its suite of more than 40 peer-reviewed scientific journals and a weekly newsmagazine, Chemical & Engineering News. Those journals are a literal gold mine of spot news, features, and background.

We know that journalists are busier than ever before, often writing not just for the print edition, but online as well. Chances are, you don’t have the time. So we do the reading for you, engaging in what must be one of the science writing community’s biggest and most intensive treasure hunts. That’s our task, exactly. Have you ever heard of any bigger search for science news? We’re looking for gems of science news that can be cut, faceted, polished, and packaged in the ACS News Service Weekly Press Pac, and distributed to journalists. The PressPac goes to more than 2,000 journalists worldwide. It’s a collection of brief news media alerts about the latest content in ACS journals, which ThompsonReuters ranks as among the most highly cited in chemistry. The alerts, which are not press releases, give journalists a heads-up summary of the new research, with a link to the full text article and contact information for the corresponding author.

Launched in 2006, the PressPac has been an overwhelming success, the main reason why ACS journals get media coverage in print and online sites with a combined circulation/monthly unique visit count of more than 3 billion. If you’re not on our distribution list of 2,000+ journalists worldwide, drop an email to>. And let us know if you find the PressPac and what we might do to improve it.

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