Fare thee well, Fermilab Today

Tim Meyer

Tim Meyer

Evolution happens. It just does. In nature, it’s about survival, and in the human world, it’s about progressing to stay relevant and impactful. How Fermilab talks and what we talk about is about to evolve.

So, word on the street is that Fermilab Today has been measured and found wanting, with a sentence of capital punishment after 12 years as the most successful laboratory-based daily newsletter of all time. Is this rumor true? Are we killing the one thing that is reliable around here?!

No. It is evolving! And please turn your memories back to 2003 when Fermilab Today was first introduced; the uproar was heard around the globe and colleagues at CERN still remember the picketing and demonstrations in front of Wilson Hall and along the Fox River about the “mandatory” daily email.

So, here are just the facts.

Fermilab Today currently reaches about 5,500 employees, users, particle physicists, reporters and members of the public — indiscriminately, unselectively and inexorably. (Yes, this has been part of its recipe for success.) But when we checked in with readers, we found that most people read only about 15 percent of the newsletter, based on their tastes and preferences. To ensure that all of these different types of subscribers receive the most accurate, timely and pertinent information about the lab, Fermilab Today will evolve into a suite of news channels beginning this fall.

Fermilab employees, users and contractors will access all the news you need to know to work here on an enhanced Fermilab at Work Web page. In addition to reading the latest column from Nigel, browsing the announcements, checking the day’s calendar and sharing the newest accelerator milestone on Facebook, you’ll be able to submit your own information and contributions. Once approved, your announcement will appear on Fermilab at Work immediately.

If you prefer getting news in your inbox, we’ve got you covered. Employees will automatically receive a weekly e-news digest that includes the types of employee-focused content you’ve grown to know and love in Fermilab Today. And if you truly miss it, you will still be able to opt in to a daily digest that includes the day’s calendar and all announcements published the previous day. Users, contractors, retirees and alumni will be able to opt in to the weekly or daily digests.

Loyal Fermilab fans and followers interested in our science, technology, outreach and public event information will be able to subscribe to a monthly e-newsletter, visit our home page or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

More details about these changes will be communicated to all Fermilab Today subscribers in the next month, so stay tuned.

How else will communication be evolving at the lab? Computing, the Office of Communication and the Office of Integrated Planning and Project Management are partnering on a digital-signage pilot project. Large screens installed at several locations around the lab will display audience-centric content. For instance, a large display in the atrium will include photos, videos and other information of interest to the public visiting Fermilab. Screens elsewhere, such as at Feynman Computing Center, ESH&Q and FESS, will focus on information that’s important for employees and users that frequent those areas. If successful, the technology would become available labwide. We won’t replace all the paper flyers stapled near the elevators, but we will take a step forward into having a digital platform available for sharing news and information with people on site.

Last but not least on the communication front, the contests to suggest Fermilab’s new tagline and address “Why do YOU work at Fermilab?” were a huge success. We received more than 400 submissions, and we thank you for your thoughtful and valuable input! The lucky winner of the random drawing for $500 is Mark Graczyk in Procurement. We are currently evaluating all of your feedback, and a new Fermilab tagline will be announced in September.

As a postscript, let me note that communication has been evolving within my own household. Norah, age 20 months and 2 weeks, used her first four syllable word (“cow-wee-fwah-wer”) this past weekend to generously and graciously identify my blackened and burned effort to cook a certain vegetable on our gas grill. I am so proud!

Tim Meyer is the laboratory chief operating officer.