Fermi National Laboratory

Volume 27  |  June 2004  |  Number 6
In This Issue  |  FermiNews Main Page

No End In Sight

by Elizabeth Clements

FermiNews and FermilabToday
From the first issue of FERMINEWS (top) in 1978, to the electronic publication of Fermilab Today, newsgathering at Fermilab has undergone continual transition.
From the first issue of FERMINEWS in 1978, to the electronic publication of Fermilab Today, newsgathering at Fermilab has undergone continual transition. The fall debut of the new magazine SYMMETRY will continue that process and significantly extend its reach.

The first issue of FERMINEWS hit the stands on May 11, 1978 with the announcement: "The 'VILLAGE CRIER,' Fermilab's employee's newsletter for nine years is now history. This is Volume 1, issue number 1, of the Crier's successor, 'FERMINEWS.'"

In 26 years, the news at Fermilab has really not changed all that much.

One article in Issue No. 1 announces that new energy-saving panels are being tested on the fifth floor of Wilson Hall (then called the Central Laboratory). Another invites employees to a New England-Style Dance on May 13. Fermilab physicist Marvin E. Johnson has been elected president of the Amoco Research Center chapter of Sigma Xi. Fermilab plans to delay Arbor Day activities until May 23, to maximize employee participation. A prairie burn was held inside the main ring on April 14, and the Fermilab International Film Society presents "The Battle of Algiers" at 8:00 p.m. on Friday in the auditorium. Sound familiar? Even the phone number for the Office of Public Affairs, listed in the issue as Ext. 3351, hasn't changed in the past 26 years.

Even in 1978, meetings were interrupted by electronic gadgetry. An announcement states: "Holders of Fermilab pagers are requested to turn off or turn down pagers when attending large group meetings. The pager's beep and broadcast disrupts even the most organized speaker's presentation." Some things never change.

Pat Turkot and Al Benson
Pat Turkot (left) and Al Benson of the Fermilab Public Information Office compile the first issue of FERMINEWS in 1978. - Fermilab Photo
This first issue uses the metaphor of the phoenix to introduce a new publication: "Like the legendary phoenix, a mythological bird that lived for 500 years, cremated itself and rose again from its own ashes, FERMINEWS will carry on where the Crier left off."

In 1969, the VILLAGE CRIER made its debut as the main vehicle of employee communication at the laboratory. For nine years, the Fermilab Public Information Office published the weekly newsletter, and employees grew accustomed to it. Not surprisingly, some didn't want to see it go.

"We were no longer just a village. The laboratory was now functioning and operating. It was time to modernize," said Chuck Marofske, head of the Laboratory Services Section from the first day it was established until he retired in 1998.

"In general, FERMINEWS was received positively by the lab," he said. "There were certainly some who felt that they didn't want to give up the old. But on the whole, at that time, we were all very excited about moving ahead. FERMINEWS was just one additional piece of evidence that we were really becoming a good thing."

As an employee of 30 years with badge number 54, Marofske witnessed an evolution in communicating at Fermilab. "In the early days, FERMINEWS was more of a little hometown newspaper for the lab," he said. "It made different groups at the lab aware of what was happening at the lab. As time progressed, FERMINEWS became more of an opportunity to make other people aware in the Fermilab community and in the scientific community about what was going on at the lab. My expectation is that communicating to a larger network is in part the goal with this new publication."

A few members of the Symmetry editorial team.
A few members of the Symmetry editorial team (left to right): Neil Calder (SLAC), Elizabeth Clements (FNAL), Mike Perricone (FNAL), David Harris (Fermilab and SLAC), and Judy Jackson (FNAL). Not pictured: Kurt Riesselmann (FNAL). - Photo by Reidar Hahn
The new publication, SYMMETRY, is not exactly rising from the ashes of FERMINEWS. More accurately, FERMINEWS is branching off into two new directions.

On July 21, 2003, the Office of Public Affairs launched Fermilab Today, a daily online publication for employees and users. With two to three news features per issue, weekly Director's Corners, Safety Tips and Results of the Week, Fermilab Today has become a staple of communication at Fermilab. In many ways, Fermilab Today will carry on for FERMINEWS in a different medium.

The new publication, with the working title SYMMETRY, is scheduled to begin publication in the fall as a joint effort of Fermilab and Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. The unique collaboration hopes to produce a magazine that will be viewed as something new in the world of science communication. While Fermilab Today is carrying on reporting the news and events at Fermilab, SYMMETRY hopes to introduce a communication style to keep pace with the coming revolution in particle physics—becoming a newsmaker in its own right.

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last modified 6/14/2004   email Fermilab