Letter from the Editor: SEJournal Goes Digital

September 1, 2016

For many of us, the arrival in our mailboxes of the quarterly SEJournal has been a treasured token of our membership in the SEJ. It lands like a postcard from a friend, a physical reminder that someone is thinking of us — even if just as a fellow professional offering a new way to approach a story or think about our work, a handy tool, a smart tip, maybe just a sense of camaraderie for our often-beleaguered environment beat.

But in these days of increasingly virtual work and life, postcards have largely been replaced by emails and tweets, by the beeps and bleeps of our mobile alerts, the flashes of our Facetimes and Skypes, the flit of our web scans. It’s the direction of our professional — and personal — lives.

So last fall, when members of an SEJ Publications 3.0 Task Force surveyed members about their information preferences, we were only mildly surprised by the results.

SEJers not only told us the type of information they most prized — environmental journalism best practices, backgrounders on emerging issues, alerts about important news, story ideas and source leads, and the like. You also told us the manner in which you wanted this material delivered — overwhelmingly, you wanted it in more timely fashion and in digital form.

In response, the Task Force began a serious rethink of what SEJ’s publications should do and how they should do it. After more than nine months of deliberations, we hashed out a plan with the executive director, who brought our recommendations to the Board of Directors for endorsement at its most recent meeting in July.

Now, that new publications plan is being put in place, and you’ll see the changes starting later this fall.

First and foremost, we’ll get the information to you much faster. How? We’re moving the SEJournal online! We’ll be producing a new SEJournal weekly e-newsletter that will continue the same high-quality news and features you’ve been getting in the print publication, only with a vastly shorter time from pen to (web) publication and in a way that’s easier to search, find, bookmark and share.

Of equal importance, we’ll provide you much more of that information — in fact, several times more. Plus, the weekly e-newsletter will include TipSheet items with story ideas and source leads, Freedom of Information WatchDog coverage and issue backgrounders. You’ll also continue to receive the popular EJToday, SEJ’s daily news digest, curated by Joe Davis. And you won’t want to miss out on @SEJorg Twitterfeed and SEJ’s Facebook page and group. All this from the same amazingly talented and dedicated team of editors working together to bring this all to you.

What will happen to the treasured print SEJournal? No, it’s not going away. It’s got too much cherished history for us to give it up so easily. Instead, we hope it will take on a new life in a new form that takes advantage of the distinctive strengths of a quarterly magazine — evergreen information, handsome format. We’re re-imagining the print SEJournal as a topically focused issue worthy of keeping as a reference work, and published as (or almost as) regularly.

To maintain the strongest possible news value for this kind of a publication, a newly formed Editorial Advisory Board will develop a list of important environmental topics worthy of in-depth coverage. Then, we’ll work with the executive director, staff and SEJ’s wonderful volunteers to find the funding from grants, ads and other sources to support it.

In the end, these changes mean you will see much more information much faster to help you do your work better, via enewsletters, the web and print. We hope SEJournal arriving in your electronic mailbox in its new form will continue to be a steady reminder from its devoted editors and many, many contributors that we’re thinking of you.

So, (postcard-style) greetings from the new SEJournal, aloha and wish you were here!

Adam Glenn has been SEJournal editor since 2012, after previously serving in the 1990s as its features editor and co-editor.


* From the Fall 2016 SEJournal.

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