Starting in April, this magazine will be printed 12 times per year instead of 22. Many readers encouraged the change.
In the Canadian Mennonite (CM) survey, carried out from July to October, we heard from nearly 350 people.
In addition, CM board members and I spoke directly with pastors, church leaders and others across the country.
More than 50 percent of survey respondents suggested that CM reduce print frequency. “I ... don’t have time for all the issues even though I appreciate the content,” said one person. Another said “fewer issues with more focused content on a theme would be helpful.”
One pastor told us people feel they are wasting paper and resources if they don’t read everything.
Although some respondents like the current frequency, in some cases they see benefits to a slower schedule. “Fewer issues would be good if those issues were better quality,” one person said.
This is exactly our plan. We believe we can do a better job of writing, editing, photography and design if we take more time between issues. We will delve more deeply and give more consideration for how we foster dialogue.
Plenty of people encouraged CM to use more, and larger, photographs, but fully 55 percent of respondents were opposed to changing from newsprint to a higher quality paper. “I would save the extra expense of glossy paper, however, larger photos would definitely be advantageous,” wrote one person.
Another said using newsprint is “good stewardship for a magazine that will be read and eventually disposed.”
We recognize the online survey risked overlooking the views of readers who are not online. “Don’t forget the seniors without computers,” said one respondent. Another wrote by email: “My opinion will not get recorded or included because I’m of the older crowd.” This person did eventually complete the survey.
Other readers, similarly, overcame the tech barrier by asking for help getting online to submit their feedback. A few picked up the phone and called in response to my August 25 editorial.
In addition to asking your opinion on print frequency and paper quality, we asked how CM can best serve the church family across Canada in this era. We have been publishing church news since 1953. Seventy years later, it’s worth asking what methods work best to connect our church community and to invite others to join our conver- sations about faith and life from an Anabaptist perspective.
For those who are disappointed about the reduction in number of issues per year, I want to say that we remain fully committed to a strong print magazine. We love print and we know many of you do too. We are even hopeful that prioritizing quality over quantity will draw new readers to join us in the thoughtful dialogue for which this magazine is known.
We also need to be tech-savvy and offer church news in digital forms to engage the church community in the online sphere.
While the survey was underway, CM was also in conversation with Mennonite Church Canada and the regional churches about our publishing agreement. In place since 1998, the agreement allows anyone who attends a Mennonite Church Canada congregation to subscribe to CM at a cost paid collectively through the church. In October, the CM board and the Joint Council of Mennonite Church Canada agreed to a new three-year agreement that extends this Every Home Plan, as we call it, and includes support for some new initiatives that CM will start in 2024.
Watch this space in the new year for more details about our plans. Not only does the change involve a redesigned print magazine, we’ll also announce some new columnists and a residency program that will nurture gifts in the church and infuse new creativity into CM content in print and online.
Please note that the next issue of CM will be digital-only, emailed on December 29. If you are a subscriber and not on our email list, contact Lorna (firstname.lastname@example.org) to add digital delivery to your subscription. We will be back in print with the January 12, 2024, issue.