Editor’s Journal: At Last

Editor’s Journal

KEVIN FINNERAN

At Last

The last time that the look of Issues was updated was the fall of 1988, when I joined the magazine. The 1988 design put Issues at the forefront of the movement toward desktop publishing. Of course, the software was relatively primitive at the time, and we opted for a design that was much stronger on consistency and ease of use than on flexibility. The software, the desktop computer, and the printing industry have all made impressive technological progress since then, and we have finally marshaled the time and resources to take advantage of the new capabilities. The result is a new look that includes color, variety, and art.

The financial support of our sponsors was critical to the decision to redesign. National Academy of Sciences president Bruce Alberts began urging us to add more visual appeal to the magazine almost from the day he arrived in 1993, and he encouraged NAS to steadily increase its financial support over the years. For a period in the 1990s, Issues lost the financial support of the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine, but Wm. A. Wulf renewed NAE’s support when he became president, and now Harvey Fineberg has renewed IOM’s support.

The University of Texas at Dallas has been supporting the magazine since 1992, and the university’s new president David E. Daniel, an NAE member, has endorsed UTD’s continued sponsorship with a generous financial commitment. With this firm foundation in place, we decided that it was finally safe to make the leap to full-color production and a new design.

Credit for the design belongs to Pamela Reznick, who also produced the previous designs and who has been responsible for producing Issues’ covers. Pam selected new typefaces (Minion and Myriad) and created a flexible template that will make it possible to give each article a distinctive layout. Jennifer Lapp of Pica & Points will continue to be responsible for implementing the design in future issues.

The most striking addition to the design is the use of art, and for that we owe a debt to J.D. Talasek, director of exhibits and cultural programs at the National Academies. J.D. is responsible for the numerous inspired art exhibits that are mounted in the Academies’ offices in Washington. These exhibits feature work that explores the relationships among the arts and science, engineering, and medicine. J.D. will be choosing samples from these exhibits as well other suitable art to reproduce in Issues. The work featured in each issue might bear some thematic relationship to the articles, but it should in no way be seen as illustrating the text. The art is all produced independently and stands on its own.

The use of art in a policy magazine might seem odd or merely decorative, but we consider it a substantive addition. The art will not recommend regulatory changes or funding increases, but by conveying the beauty, power, horror, anxiety, wonder, or confusion engendered by science, engineering, and medicine, it can help us to see contemporary issues in fresh ways. We encourage you to look at the art carefully and to read the artists’ descriptions of their work. You will see that there is much more there than meets the casual eye.