Breaking the news
This month marks my third anniversary as managing editor of ASBMB Today. If COVID-19 restrictions continue, I’ll probably celebrate privately with an extra cup of coffee at my kitchen table/desk. Maybe even a doughnut.
As I’ve mentioned in this space before, I worked for about 20 years at daily and weekly newspapers before I came to the ASBMB to edit a monthly magazine. The change was stark, mostly in terms of pacing. I spent much of my career hounding reporters to turn around daily stories in a matter of hours. Here, I found that we had the luxury of working for weeks, even months, on articles and essays to get them exactly right for this magazine. Very little was urgent. We moved at a stately and thoughtful pace, rather like an ocean liner or a dowager countess.
That changed this year. And it changed fast.
First, we moved to daily publishing on our website in January, meaning we were posting fresh stories every morning — often several a day. This had been a longtime goal of the ASBMB Today staff, and we were delighted with our fresh new website, even though it meant major pivots in our workflow.
Later that month, we became aware of an insidious new disease that was sickening people in China. We posted our first article about research related to chloroquine and “the new coronavirus” on Feb. 6, covering a paper published two days earlier.
Since then, this job and my old jobs have felt increasingly similar as we race to share news of COVID-19 research and how our members are helping and coping. Our staff writers, contributors and members have churned out articles and essays at what, for us, is an astonishing pace.
Why am I telling you this?
The May issue of ASBMB Today reflects these recent changes. Here we have collected the best of the COVID-19 writing that we’ve posted on our website since February. We tried to update articles wherever possible, but the story is evolving quickly. This is a snapshot, from the viewpoint of this magazine and this society, of a moment that comes once in a century.
And as with our April issue, due to stay-at-home orders and the closure of many universities and institutions, we are not printing this issue. You can view it as a PDF file here.Stay well and stay safe.
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Vaccination arose in the 18th century during a frenzied period of trial and error, in which many didn't survive a trip to the doctor. If you squint a little, it looks a lot like the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak.