Bread Or New Coke?
product introductions are always risky. The launch of
this new magazine is risky, too. But the risks are worth
taking. Consolidating the trio of venerable Economic
Research Service periodicals into one web-linked publication
may generate anxiety on the part of some long-time readers,
but it provides a platform for serving our familiar
audience in a more up-to-date way and a means to reach
new readers. By way of introduction to the magazine,
let me share with you the thinking that led us to this
not about us As researchers, we recognize we are
true "supply-siders." We like to write long
manuscripts and we want you readers to want to read
them. But readers today expect timely information in
manageable pieces. You have let us know you want reader-friendly
formats both in print and on the web. We have tried
to design this magazine with the reader, not the writer,
in mind. We make every effort to avoid jargon and to
write simply and concisely.
illuminatenot reportthe news of the day
It's not our intent to report the newsrather,
we relate ERS research to current events. While we plan
as best we can, there is no guarantee that the publication
of an economic research report exactly coincides with
the headlines. Issues come and go. We believe we can
improve the usefulness of our research by highlighting
its relevance to contemporary events through the magazine.
end to balkanization In publishing three magazines,
we were compartmentalizing our readers. Certainly many
have broad interests, but who wants to read three magazines
from one Federal agency? And some parts of the ERS program
weren't really well covered by the existing magazine
spread-much of our work on natural resources, for example.
By moving to a single magazine and linking to related
material on our website, we can provide breadth but
also continue to provide depth to readers with special
the electronic fold The three periodicals were conceived
at a time when mailing out hard-copy publications was
our main means of communicating with the large non-academic
segment of our audience. But with the advent of the
Internetand particularly the re-engineering of
the ERS website in January 2001the relationship
with our audience changed dramatically. With electronic
technologies, we can reach more people and deliver more
products in a more timely way. It is time to bring our
magazine publishing into the electronic fold, to take
advantage of the richness of the ERS website. While
hard copy issues will appear five times a year (February,
April, June, September, and November, in sync with policymaking
and market events), the e-zine is updated more frequently.
I'm hoping that you will find Amber Waves an
engaging and useful addition to the portfolio of sources
that provide information and economic analysis about
food, farm, natural resources, and rural community issues.
Please let me know your thoughts (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The best thing since sliced bread? That is our sincere
E. Offutt, Administrator
Economic Research Service