My first journalism job was at a tiny (circulation: 1,500) weekly newspaper that covered the rural town we lived in when my kids were growing up. I was hired as a freelance reporter and photographer, paid (as I dimly recall) about $1 an inch for articles and $3 for each photo — more if they made the front page.
It was a great job for a mostly stay-at-home mom (I had a toddler and two kids in elementary school). I was going to tons of community events already. All I had to do was bring my camera, interview a few people and write an article after the kids were in bed. Sometimes I did in-depth interviews with local celebrities like the bus driver who’d had two sets of triplets on his route.
As I cruised around in my minivan snapping photos and scribbling in notebooks, I came to realize that the real purpose of this paper was to keep a small town feeling small. Sprawling housing developments had sprung up in the preceding decade, and longtime residents grumbled. By putting as many people as possible in our little tabloid, we helped everyone feel like they knew each other. No story was too insignificant if we could get a new name and face out into the community.
Many years and several publications later, I still believe one of my most important jobs is helping people feel like they know what’s going on with the members of their community. That’s why one of the most important parts of ASBMB Today is our Member Update section, which is right at the front of our print magazine, and a weekly anchor on our website that we fondly call Member Monday. This is where we share good news about you and what we refer to as your “awards, promotions, milestones and more.”
I scroll through Google searches looking for this news. Angela Hopp, our executive editor, gets tips from Twitter. We pull all this information together, and science writer Laurel Oldach writes the lion’s share of the articles (including good thumbnail descriptions of each person’s research). Lately, our volunteer contributors have taken on the responsibility of writing In Memoriam member obituaries. They do a fantastic job.
We hope you enjoy reading about your fellow American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology members and sharing your own good news. To the latter point, I urge you to let us know about the noteworthy events in your life. Drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Member news” — or tell your institution’s communications office to send us a press release. Please don’t be shy. We’re quite discreet; no one will know where we got the tip. Just think of it as doing your part to build community in the town of ASBMB.