It’s foolhardy, if not dangerous, for the editor of a technical magazine to presume what readers want to see on its pages or website. Any conscientious editor certainly strives to follow trends and developments in the particular field and identify content that’s relevant and valuable to the audience. However, an editor’s role by nature is that of a generalist rather than an expert in a given area of technology. So, inputs from those on the front lines are essential for doing the job right.
Despite that, I’ve run into chief editors who arrogantly believe they know better than their audience. I certainly don’t feel that way.
In my 15 years at Chemical Processing (and previously at other magazines serving the chemical industry), I’ve always considered that gathering inputs from chemical engineers and other technical professionals at operating and engineering companies as well as specialists at vendors and elsewhere is crucial for determining and developing on-target and useful content.
One key element in CP’s efforts to get an accurate reading on what’s happening and what’s important is through active, ongoing discussions with our editorial board, whose members represent a microcosm of functions and sectors in the chemical industry. The roster of current members appears on our masthead. You can access more details on each person here.
Now, many trade magazines boast editorial boards. Too often though, the main role of the board members is just to lend their prestige to the magazine. The extent of their involvement is to allow their names to appear on the masthead. In contrast, at CP, we rely on our editorial board for ideas about trends, developments and topics that merit our attention, recommendations on how best to focus cover stories, and suggestions about specialists who could contribute to roundup stories or write articles. In addition, board members provide candid feedback on what we’ve published. We hold regular quarterly teleconferences and I also sporadically touch base with members about particular topics. This dialog has resulted in a substantial amount of valuable content; the online page about the editorial board members lists more than a score of recent articles stemming from their recommendations.
I can confidently say that the extent to which we interact with our editorial board and the members’ level of engagement is unparalleled in our field.
However, no one can expect the board members to fully represent the needs of the entire spectrum of our audience. So, every few years, Chemical Processing asks readers to spend a few moments sharing their views on the magazine and our website. This involves taking a brief online survey (accessible here).
Basically, we want you to tell us whether we’re serving you well or not, what you like best and least about the magazine and website, and what types of content we should increase or add. Your inputs can help us improve our value to you. Plus, by taking the survey, you’ll have the chance to win a gift card.
I urge you to let us know what you think.
MARK ROSENZWEIG is Chemical Processing's Editor in Chief. He welcomes feedback as well as tips on where to find vintage typewriters. You can email him both at email@example.com.