January 2008 Issue • Volume 36 • Issue 1

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From the Executive Officer

Footnotes Looks Different, Yes?

Sally Hillsman,
ASA Executive

Well? How do you like it? The new Footnotes design, that is. If you’ve been a regular reader, you will have noticed Footnotes’ new look beginning with this issue. You certainly can’t miss the splash of color after more than 30 years of the black-ink-only, text-intensive format. The original Footnotes format was introduced in 1985 and used through 2007. Footnotes was clearly due for a facelift for the New Century after the ASA 2005 centennial year. Design and a consideration of content—relative to organizational needs and reader behavior, preferences, and perceived value—all received our attention as we developed this new template with input from the ASA membership.

A Little History

Some (and we believe many) members will be relieved that Footnotes has not become an electronic-only publication, as have many professional publications. Footnotes remains a nine-times-per-year print publication. We retained the tabloidsize format, which we found popular with readers because it distinguishes Footnotesfrom the myriad newsletters and magazines in members’ mailboxes and readers say it is easier to read and scan quickly.

vp_logoFootnotes is the primary printed source of news about the discipline, profession, and the Association. Its audience is primarily the ASA membership, who receive it as a member benefit. Its contents are posted on the ASA website as each issue goes to print and single articles can be easily downloaded. This helps overcome one dimension of Footnotes we can’t improve—its slow delivery by non-profit rate "snail mail."

Footnotes’ predecessor was The American Sociologist, then an ASA newsletter. January 1973 was the first issue published under the Footnotes name. Footnotes is the ASA official “publication of record.” It primarily reports news of the Association and the U.S. sociology community. It has included some international news, but we have developed an editorial plan to enhance this coverage. We continue to include news about national science policy and academic freedom issues that affect the profession and discipline. These and other aspects of the new Footnotes are responsive to readers’ coverage preferences solicited during focus groups and interviews with members, from ASA leadership, the 2007 Annual Meeting Open Forum, Chairs Conference, meetings of Community College Faculty, Directors of Graduate Studies, and regional, state, and aligned association leaders. An outside communications audit in 2006 also provided valuable input in the context of all ASA communications mechanisms.

Footnotes Content

The Internet and websites have changed the context of information dissemination through the ASA printed newsletter. The ASA website is a central and effective means of communicating with members and sociologists in general, as well as the public, press, and policymakers. ASA’s monthly Member News and Notes electronic newsletter disseminates new and time-sensitive news to members and links to details on the ASA website. These have increased the breadth of ASA’s “informational ecology” and somewhat changed the context of Footnotes. But not as much as we had expected.

Members want a print Footnotes that has “something for everyone.” Different portions appeal to different segments of our large and diverse membership. No current content was widely identified as unimportant or uninteresting to members and no area of potential content was widely identified as missing; but more coverage of some areas including international sociology news was identified as a need.

We hope you enjoy the new look and feel of Footnotes. We look forward to additional feedback as we continue to assess its format and content.

Finally, ASA members report wanting more information about all their colleagues in Footnotes! That means YOU.

So each of you has an open invitation to send us more “People News” at footnotes@asanet.org. We want news about recent hirings, publications, distinctions, and career transitions—the wonderful positive “gossip” that makes us a community.

Sally Hillsman is the Executive Officer of ASA. She can be reached by email at executive.office@asanet.org.

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