Everywhere I go, I am asked one question more than any other: "How is the magazine doing?" The question is sometimes asked in hushed tones, as if the answer is going to reveal bad news. The context is the economic recession, which has led to a number of periodicals going under.
The answer is "fine." Like every other publishing enterprise, we have taken a hit in the past year and a half, and so have needed to reduce the number of editorial pages and staff. Yet the bottom line is that the good ship CT is not listing; in fact, it is starting to make headway again.
That doesn't mean that our engines are on full, any more than are those of The New York Times. In the next year, you will see The Times and other major media institutions—including ours—experiment with charging for online content. Print will be around for some time to come, but electronic versions will continue to grow. Getting CT on your iPhone? Likely this year.
One measure we have already taken: We've decided to reveal a fact about Christianity Today International that most people don't know—that we are a not-for-profit organization. We see ourselves as a journalistic ministry, and as such (as recent ads have noted) we welcome donations. In this regard, our business model is similar to that of National Public Radio and public television.
We are confident that readers will respond supportively, because we offer independent journalism about an important niche of American Christianity and, more broadly, American life. For better or worse, we are the "new mainline," a principal voice of Protestant Christianity in America.
That's why the journalism we do is more necessary than ever, and why we are still passionate about assessing the people, events, and ideas that shape not only evangelicalism, but also, potentially, the U.S. and the world. We belong to a minority of religious publications that remain independent of a denomination, parachurch ministry, business, or institution. That allows us to evaluate fairly and honestly all aspects of our life together.
Yes, a lot of people are exclaiming that the journalistic sky is falling. Bah. Humbug. When has financing a ministry not been a challenge? Another comment I get in these fear-inspiring days is, "The magazine is better than ever." That is not accidental, because everyone who helps produce this magazine thinks challenge is another word for fun. So actually, I'll change my answer: "CT is doing great."
Next month: Wess Stafford of Compassion International tells his remarkable story of abuse and redemption; New Testament scholar Joseph Hellerman explains how acting like a family might change a church; and sociologist James Davison Hunter questions whether and how Christians can transform the world.
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