Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 25, 2009
Teens still prefer face-to-face to Facebook
Saturday circulation at The Free Press has dropped from almost 252,000 in 1983 to just over 166,000 today. Nevertheless, Cox maintained the drop would have been even more drastic if the paper was not using its website to forge stronger relations with readers.
Daily average page views on the Free Press website have increased from 220,000 in the first quarter of 2008 to 300,000 in the first quarter of this year, he said.
The newspaper boasts an online audience that is larger than any local TV newscast, Cox said. As well, through the website, it has become a medium that breaks news for the first time since the advent of radio in the 1920s.
Mike Tennant, producer of CBC Radio’s The Hidden Persuaders, urged the 150 or so people at Going Barefoot to be prepared to make sacrifices to go where the audience is.
That’s what Jesus would do, Tennant said. Jesus attended to people’s wants such as through the healing of their infirmities, dividing the loaves and fishes, and raising people from the dead before discussing their actual needs.
Healing was not the ultimate destination, but it was what people wanted, he said. “He used all these things as his calling cards and used them to direct people to a more important message.”
The Rev. Jamie Howison was not so sure.
In a May 16 talk to the CCP, the Winnipeg Anglican pastor questioned an over-emphasis on relevance and boosting circulation, which he said tends to turn pastors and Christian communicators into “religious shopkeepers.”
“Chasing relevance, chasing the thing that is going to be the key to our next chapter — video pieces on our websites, some fancy new interactive behaviour or whatever it is that surfaces after Twitter — is a blind alley,” Howison said.
When society and culture are in constant change, “then chasing cultural relevance will be an elusive goal.”
While an Internet presence is part of the future for media, Christian communicators should seek “a timeless approach,” he said.
He held up the example of The Christian Century magazine that largely ignored advice to run shorter articles and brighten its pages with more photos in order to attract younger readers. The magazine did not attract younger readers but, over a 12-year period, it increased its circulation by 40 per cent, mainly among people in their 50s and 60s who have the time and life experience to read more reflective articles.
Howison urged his audience of editors and writers to take their lead from the prophets and from the scribes whom Jesus lauded: “Every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old” (Matthew 13:51-52).
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