PLANO—Effective Jan. 1, Baptist Standard Publishing will eliminate three staff positions and cut the frequency of CommonCall magazine as part of a series of cost-cutting measures.
Staff will be reduced from seven full-time employees to four, losing the executive assistant, staff writer and webmaster positions. Cumulative tenure of the three affected employees—Beth Campbell, George Henson and John Rutledge—surpasses 75 years on the Baptist Standard staff.
“This was a difficult decision for our board of directors to make and for the staff to implement,” Editor Marv Knox said. “Beth, George and John all have served Texas Baptists extraordinarily for a long, long time. They are exemplary ministers and wonderful friends. We won’t be the same without them, and we will miss them every day.”
‘Perfect storm’ of challenges
Like other denominational publications—and news periodicals in general—the Baptist Standard has experienced declining circulation for about three decades. It has been affected by what Knox referred to as a “perfect storm” of challenges.
“The newspaper industry began to decline nationwide in the 1980s, and it spiraled with the advent of the Internet and digital media,” he explained. “Simultaneously, Baptists endured civil war, and at its conclusion, post-denominationalism engulfed American churches, weakening state and national conventions.
“And finally, the cycles of economic recession pinched church budgets, forcing them to cut items—such as newspaper subscriptions—they did not feel were mandatory.”
Along the way, the Baptist Standard made several accommodations. The weekly newspaper became a biweekly publication in 2003. Three years ago, the Standard shifted to digital-only delivery and launched CommonCall as a feature-oriented monthly magazine. Soon afterward, the Standard returned to weekly frequency, delivered by email rather than the U.S. Postal Service.
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Declines in advertising by the Baptist General Convention of Texas, as well as the challenge of monetizing digital media, made the latest cutbacks mandatory, Knox said. Baptist Standard Publishing is the only Baptist news organization not subsidized by a state, regional or national convention. It does not receive a Cooperative Program allocation and supports its ministry through subscription and advertising sales, as well as a development program.
CommonCall will be published quarterly in 2016. Subscribers will receive issues in February, May, August and November.
The Baptist Standard will continue to be produced weekly and distributed by email every Monday. Every subscription to CommonCall comes with two free Baptist Standard subscriptions. This is true whether subscriptions are purchased individually or in bulk. So, magazine subscribers who have not taken advantage of that offer can close their news gap by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (214) 630-4571, ext. 1014.
The website, www.baptiststandard.com, will be updated daily most weekdays and more often when necessary.
Discontinuing some items
As an additional cost-cutting measure—and to enable remaining staff to focus time on producing news and features of interest to Texas Baptists—several longstanding content areas will be discontinued:
• Down Home will appear as an occasional column rather than every-other week.
• After producing more than 300 columns on ethical issues, Right or Wrong will be eliminated.
• The number of Bible studies per week will be reduced from three curriculum series to the one that draws the greatest number of readers, LifeWay’s Explore the Bible. This change will take effect when the current quarter ends in February.
• The Texas Tidbits and Baptist Briefs columns will be eliminated. Items that appeared previously in Texas Tidbits will appear in Around the State. Items that had been condensed into Baptist Briefs will appear as links to the original national news sources.
“As you might imagine, we’re not pleased to implement these changes,” Knox said. “But although we are a news ministry, we’re also a small business that must support itself. So, we embraced these changes in order to ensure Texas Baptists continue their access to a free and unfettered source of news about and for them.
“Ironically, while funding our ministry never has been more difficult, the tools for delivering news and information never have been better. The power of the Internet is astounding. We’re committed to continuing our 127-year legacy and mandate for Texas Baptists.”
Who to contact:
Notifications about deaths, church anniversaries, ordinations, church staff transitions and other events typically reported in Around the State or On the Move should be sent to Managing Editor Ken Camp at email@example.com.
Inquiries about display and classified advertising should be directed to Sales and Marketing Manager Julie Sorrels at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subscription updates and financial considerations should be directed to Finance Manager Kayla Peltoma at email@example.com.
For all other issues, contact Knox at firstname.lastname@example.org.