It surprises some folks in the BPI community to learn that I’m a journalist by training, boasting a mere bachelor of arts degree in journalism despite my high-fallutin’ technical editor title. I was originally trained in Associated Press (AP) style by a veteran newsman who spent many years working for AP’s main competitor, United Press International (UPI). When I first started on BioPharm back in 1996, I had to get up to speed quickly on the stylebooks of Chicago and the American Chemical Society — more commonly used in the magazine and scientific journal worlds — and I never lost my journalistic sensibilities. So I was happy to manage the news-briefs sections of both magazines I’ve worked on, first as BioPharm’s assistant editor, then associate and managing editor, and finally now as BPI’s senior technical editor.
A monthly magazine must take a different approach to news from that of a daily paper or weekly newsletter. Timeliness is not an option. We’ve always considered our Spotlight section to be a place for “in case you missed it” stories and those with less of a time aspect to them. I admit to a bit of personal bias in choosing what to highlight, as well: If I thought something was cool and interesting, then I figured a significant portion of our audience would too. And although we occasionally give our “buddies” a nod, it has never been a pay-to-play section. BPI labels advertorial content for what it is (e.g., our annual yearbook) and works to ensure that you can tell right away what is supplier-submitted content and what isn’t. With our new approach to the Supplier Side (formerly Vendor Voice) articles, the transparency is even more straightforward.
We’ve used the Spotlight to flesh out the “international” aspect of BioProcess International as well as to support the themes of our issues. We’ve used it to highlight changes to our own staff and editorial advisory board (EAB), to report on conferences and other events, to publish letters to the editor, and to correct mistakes that we or our authors may have made. We’ve found underlying themes that brought stories together and presented them as such. But what we never really had much time to do was dive deeper into the stories, get on the phone with the people involved, and provide a truly journalistic insight.
Over the past year or so, editorial assistant Alison Center has helped me move a bit more in that direction, but I still blush to imagine my “j-school” professors looking over my shoulder. That’s why we’re all pleased to welcome Dan Stanton to our team as our exclusive newsman on the BPI beat. His dedication to objectivity and ethics were what struck me most about him when we first met. Those are rare and precious commodities in the business-to-business publishing world. And by devoting 100% of his hours to biopharmaceutical industry news and analysis — along with BioProcess Insider’s timely schedule and generous space to fill as an electronic publication — Dan can do what I’ve always wished we could here.
Thus I can feel good as we wave a fond farewell to the Spotlight section, knowing that my j-school professors would approve. A print version of BPI Insider will take its place, highlighting its top stories with real insight. We’ll continue to include corrections when necessary, staff and EAB announcements, and so on. But I hope you’ll agree that this is a step in the right direction!