Magazine to become quarterly; website relaunch
This magazine, the print magazine that you are holding, will change only modestly—a new readership study tells us Unitarian Universalists like UU World the way it is. But the UU World Web magazine will be a vast change from the current UU World Web site. Since 2001, every time we've mailed a new issue we've also put most of its contents up on the Web. Many readers who want to share an article with friends who don't get UU World have found it much more convenient to e-mail them its URL than to make photocopies to send by snail mail. And sometimes thousands of non-UUs have found their way to UU World articles that draw the attention of other Web sites or blogs. But the current magazine Web site is little more than an archive to which new material has been added every two months. The UU World Web magazine will be much more.
Issues of our new electronic magazine will be published every week. Each week's issue will offer fresh inspirational material, timely news of UUs and their congregations and institutions, and helpful information for church leaders. And each week's Web magazine will feature either an exclusive Web-only article or an article from the print magazine. There will be a frequently updated feature for UU activists, helping them keep up on what they can do to make a difference. And, if you'd prefer, you won't have to go to the Web magazine—the magazine will come to you. The front page of the Web magazine will offer you an easy way to sign up for weekly e-mails of fresh UU news and other material.
As I write this, planning for the Web magazine proceeds feverishly. For the editors, this is a fascinating project. But we understand that not all of our readers are big users of the World Wide Web, and thus some may be cool to this news. On the surface, editors are people who produce publications. But on a more important level, we see our work as serving the needs of readers, which is to say you. The new readership study makes me and my fellow editors smile because it shows that many readers find the UUA's magazine useful to their lives. And we want to keep it that way.
So the print magazine will offer tips to help readers who don't spend much time on the Web, easing the way to more value from UU World in both of its forms. Synergy is the goal, and so is stewardship—stewardship of our relationships with you, the readers, and stewardship of the UUA's resources.
The quarterly print UU World and the dynamic new Web magazine together will cost the UUA substantially less than publishing six print issues a year. In this time of tight budgets, the Association's need to cut spending is reducing the magazine's frequency, but some of the resources freed by printing and mailing fewer issues are being directed to serving up quality UU journalism to audiences that are not served by the print magazine, which circulates almost exclusively to people who are voting members of UU congregations.
The big advantage of the Web magazine will be its outreach. We expect our new Web journalism to attract UU young adults on campus or not yet affiliated with congregations, UUs who are active in our congregations but have yet to join, and, especially, seekers looking for a religion that fits them just right. These are tasks the print magazine cannot undertake—and services our Association needs to offer.
The Web magazine tips UU World toward the future, toward a Unitarian Universalism growing in numbers, vitality, and effectiveness in the world. If you want to sneak a peek into this future, check www.uuworld.org in July, when an experimental version of the new Web magazine should be up and running. We'd love to get your feedback.
See you in September!
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Tom Stites was the editor of UU World from 1997 to 2006 and retired as its publisher in 2007. He is a member of the First Religious Society of Newburyport, Massachusetts.