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Pressroom Perspectives: My 80th

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That milestone is fast approaching, and I look forward to August 19 with a sense of excitement and anticipation. Although some of my colleagues here in the American Chemical Society (ACS) Office of Public Affairs may find it easy to believe that I’m talking about an 80th birthday, that landmark actually is some years ahead. August 19, 2012 will mark the 80th ACS National Meeting & Exposition that I have attended.

ACS holds two of these science spectaculars each year― meetings that some news media have termed “The World Series of Science.” And I’ve been attending them since 1972. It began in my earlier life as a newspaper science editor covering ACS National Meetings as a journalist. ACS National Meetings include reports on new discoveries that span science’s horizons, often ranging astronomy to zoology. My role changed in 2006, when daily journalism began falling into the tenacious embrace of an economic downturn. It forced my former employer to shutter its Washington Bureau in the National Press Building, where I worked.

I transitioned to the ACS, the world’s largest scientific society, and began a new role in helping journalists cover these huge meetings, which sometimes include more than 12,000 technical papers with scores of sessions underway simultaneously. Our team here in ACS Public Affairs reads all of the abstracts of technical presentations scheduled for each of the annual meetings ― more than 20,000 in all. We’re hunting for newsworthy presentations that can be the basis for press releases, press conferences and other content.

And we’re in the home stretch for the ACS 244th National Meeting & Exposition, which begins on that milestone day, August 19, and continues through August 23. The venue: Philadelphia. On the agenda: 8,600 presentations on new discoveries in science and other topics.The attendance: An estimated 14,000 scientists and others who will pump about $25 million into the local economy, according to Philadelphia convention officials. The ACS Public Affairs team has produced more than 40 press releases that publicize hundreds of papers, and there will be almost 30 press conferences. Journalists who cover the meeting from their home bases can tune in live online and ask questions.

The Philadelphia meeting includes some of the most newsworthy topics I can recall in those 79 previous meetings. One example: A block-buster symposium featuring high-profile scientists and attorneys involved in righting mistakes in the criminal justice system. They used chemistry to help people who are innocent but proven guilty in court. Press registration is still open if you can join us in the ACS Press Center in Philly. Embargoed copies of press releases will be on EurekAlert! and Newswise in August. Let us know if we can help in any way with your coverage, either from the City of Brotherly Love or your own office.

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