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Publishing ... by design

"Publishing ... by design" Continued...

Issue: "Casualty of 'peace'," March 24, 2001

Publishing may be an art, but it's also a discipline. It takes inspired people to do a good job of marketing and ad sales-but even more, it takes people who keep good records, who follow through, and who pay attention to details whether they love those details or not. That was true of Kathy Cook, who managed WORLD's first sustained marketing growth before handing the reins to Matt Worthington. And it's true of Jennifer Graham, who heads the magazine's ad sales team, which has doubled ad sales revenue over the last couple of years to a total of $2 million in the current fiscal period.

Sound financial management rarely springs from the same fountain spewing forth the sort of creative package you see in WORLD each week. But WORLD has found such accountability in CFO Eric Zetterholm, Comptroller George Berry, and their good team. Records of what's happened are trustworthy, and projections into the future can be counted on.

Similar accountability for the whole organization lies with a loyal-and talented-board of directors. Strictly volunteers, these men and women meet three times a year to provide the balance wheel that even a gifted staff cannot give itself. At WORLD magazine and God's World Publications Inc., nobody serves on both the board and the staff at the same time; that, we believe, eliminates a troubling conflict of interest present in too many organizations. But several board members, including WORLD's publisher John Prentis, have graduated from the board to serve on the operating team. That's a telling snapshot, I think, of the level of their involvement and commitment. Board chairman Robert Singleton gets the respect, I hope, that a chairman should get-but he's welcomed to staff discussions about particular problems as if he were part of the operational team.

Does that leave out people who have played integral roles, and ignore events that were crucial? Of course it does. There are, for example, those who have given and lent us money along the way. Over 15 years, it took more than $2.5 million in gifts to bring WORLD to the place where it now balances its own budget and operates in the black. But without those people, that dream would have gone unfulfilled.

There were also people who prayed, and still pray, for the faithfulness of this magazine's vision-that WORLD will not grow too professional, too polished, or too sophisticated to remember its first love. Those praying people may be the most crucial members of WORLD's whole team.

Just two of us-executive assistant June McGraw and I-have been part of the WORLD staff since the beginning. Along the way, we've greeted a host of newcomers and said a few sad goodbyes to some, including WORLD pioneers like Arthur Matthews, Stephen Lutz, and Nat Belz, who have moved on to other assignments. If there are as many changes in the next 15 years as there have been in WORLD's first 15, neither of us expects to recognize what we helped start. That, I think we both agree, is considerably more exciting than trying to do everything by design.

Joel Belz
Joel Belz

Joel, WORLD's founder, writes a regular column for the magazine and contributes commentaries for The World and Everything in It. He is also the author of Consider These Things.


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