Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"The Times" It Is a-Changin'

This week the Christian Science Monitor became one of the first major daily newspapers to announce that it was abandoning publication of its daily print edition and going exclusively to an online daily format with publication of a print edition on weekends only. People may be consuming more information than ever before, but they are doing it on their laptops, their iPhones, or their Kindles.

The disappearance of print newspapers is only part of the issue. By and large, newspapers have not done a good job of moving to the online medium. They look like newspapers online, in many cases simply replicating their print edition on a web site. (For more on the Christian Science Monitor and an NPR audio, CLICK HERE.)

Churches are beginning to learn the same lessons and make the same mistakes. More and more congregations are going to online communication and e-newsletters. In many cases it is more in an effort to save money, than to communicate more effectively or to expand the readership base as a missional effort. (Church Councils are persuaded by the “bottom line”.) When the move is made, they often make the same mistakes as newspapers. The online e-news is simply the print edition duplicated online. It generally makes little use of links, blogs or interactive elements. It also tends to follow the same publication schedule as the old newsletter, sending longs blocks of information on a monthly basis instead of short bites in real time.

Why not suggest to your judicatory office a workshop on online newsletters and communication! The times they are a-changin’. ---- Which brings me to an “aside”: As one who lived through the changes of the late 60’s, it’s interesting to listen to Bob Dylan’s song again (click video below) and realize how similar, and yet different, these times are from those.

1 comment:

Martin S said...

I agree with you Art. I just started sending out a quick email each Friday with highlights for what will be happening on the weekend (including sermon theme and bible study topic). Nothing much - just a few quick notes. And yet it has been extremely well received. A lot of the same information had been in the monthly newsletter and the printed Sunday announcements - but the truth is people just don't read these things - or if they do, it is forgotten within 10 minutes of putting it down. As for adding more to such emails (links, clips, etc) - certainly sounds exciting, but this could be the job of a half-time staff person, and there would still be more that could be done. For those of us who are time/talent challenged - short, to the point, and add in a color for titles/substitles.