11 July 2009

D034 - the future of printed communication

Yes, Virginia, there is something going on at GC09 other than talking about sex.

Friday, 10 July, there was a hearing on the future of Episcopal Life. The hearing focused on the future of the print media. D034, Continuing Episcopal Life and Diocesan Partnerships, is just that. Although Episcopal Life is the national publication, at least thirty dioceses pays to have their diocesan newspaper included in Episcopal Life.

The heart of the matter is that we live in a society that sees print media as a dying art. With the advent of the World Wide Web, newspapers are folding nearly every day. Is it economically sound to continue to print Episcopal Life, or should that publication move to electronic print?

Episcopal Church director of communications Anne Rudig outlined a proposed budget for the department, based at the Church Center in New York, that would retain news coverage on the Episcopal Life Online website and change the print publication to a feature-focused quarterly magazine. "Historically, the department has been a news bureau model. I am moving ahead with a draft budget that would allow the office to move from a news model to a diversified strategic communications model," she said.

The Rt. Rev'd Jerry Lamb, San Joaquin, said
The newspaper has been a unifying tool as the diocese works to rebuild after former leadership left the Episcopal Church. I believe the printed edition of Episcopal Life is a core value of this church … We put into everybody's hand a piece of paper where everybody's got the same news instead of 15 blogs. I am very concerned it stay on a monthly basis.
Scott Guinn (RI) who is a member of the committee spoke against the resolution

It is not a good idea to legislate solutions … The future of monthly print publications is limited.
He added that a proposed five-month time frame for the end of the monthly newspaper is too short and there should be a survey to determine a long-term strategy.

I must say I don't understand the debate. Each month I receive The Lutheran Magazine published by the ELCA. It is a slick publication and contains information from all parts of the ELCA and news of the church universal as well. Why can we not have such a publication?

I am, obviously, firmly in the modern era where the media is concerned and the WWW is wonderful. But not all of us have the Internet savvy and not all of us love an on-line only world. It really is difficult to fall into bed at night with the computer in hand and drift off to sleep reading about the doings of the Episcopal Church. It's also dang hard to swat the flies with the computer! And, too, there is just something comforting about holding print media in hand.