Technicolor Dreams for Perspectives on History

Perspectives on History - September 2010The entire September 2010 issue of Perspectives on History (and every issue thereafter)will appear in glorious four-color print on glossy text stock, a first in the 48 years of the AHA newsmagazine’s existence. This beautification is not the result of a midlife crisis for a magazine on the verge of entering its 50s. Counterintuitive though it may seem, it is a reflection of attempts to economize in a time of financial cutbacks. But this metamorphosis of the magazine is also an opportunity for us to go beyond mere cosmetic and surface transformations in its appearance.

As Perspectives on History is reincarnated into a newly polychromatic periodical, we hope to make changes also to its design and content. We hope that these changes will, while furthering the Association’s goals, also help us to develop suggestions made by our readers in response to a survey that we conducted in 2008, as well as other ideas proposed by AHA staff, editorial advisory board members, and other well wishers. Indeed many of these suggestions have already been incorporated into the magazine in one form or another in recent years.

But implementation of many ideas may have to be put off for a while as they may require resources that are beyond our reach in these difficult economic circumstances. So apart from a judicious and restrained use of colors that will, nevertheless, take advantage of the four-color printing process, you may not notice any immediate and dramatic shifts in the character and content of the magazine. We will continue to have all the regular columns and popular features such as the series of articles on the art of history and historians’ takes on movies, along with the always useful essays on teaching and analyses of the profession.

Perspectives Online, the online version of Perspectives on History, will also remain essentially the same for now. But you will notice three immediate changes:

  1. Each issue will be published online on the first working day of the publication month or soon thereafter.
  2. Access to most of the feature content of the online version will be restricted for a period of one month from the date of publication to members only. After one month, the content will be freely available to all.
  3. Members will have the opportunity to offer online comments on the articles.

But more changes are in the works. In the expectation that a more coherent and constructive plan will help shape the transformation of the newsmagazine, we are preparing a “blueprint for the future” that we will publish later for further discussion and development. When it is ready, we hope that the blueprint will lay out:

  1. Plans for effecting immediate changes in Perspectives on History that will, we hope, enhance the magazine during the next year, even while drawing upon its long heritage and maintaining continuities with existing format, style, and content.
  2. Plans for reshaping Perspectives Online, currently the digital avatar (albeit a truncated one) of the printed news magazine
  3. Long-term plans for more fundamental changes that will also draw upon the magazine’s history, but will seek to invest it with a new character, and thus help it to resonate more closely with the Association’s evolving mission.

When the more comprehensive draft blueprint is published, we will be inviting your comments and suggestions, so that the final plans are a truly collaborative enterprise. But we welcome your thoughts now, or, if you like, after you have seen a copy of the September issue of Perspectives on History, which will soon be on its way to you.

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