Columnists > Voices

A giant leap?

Significant growth for WORLD could take four or five years -or maybe just one or two

Issue: "Reagan: Providential president," Feb. 7, 2004

With WORLD magazine's 18th birthday right around the corner, it's time to take stock. Our adolescence is fading away in the rearview mirror. More and more, folks expect us to act like an adult.

So perhaps it's appropriate every year or so-and what better time than with a birthday coming up?-to report to you readers on where this magazine is heading. Such a report has added significance in that it has just been reviewed and confirmed by the magazine's board of directors, a group of competent volunteers who meet three times a year to help direct our affairs.

Here are a few of the things we just told our board:

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Circulation WORLD's paid circulation last week topped 135,000-with suggestions that it has begun to grow again after having leveled off for a year or more. That plateau may partly have been the result of the general economic recession of the last two years, or it may have signaled the need for finding new methods of attracting new readers to WORLD. Direct mail, for example, which historically has brought us more than half of all our new readers, is not as effective as it used to be. So we are experimenting carefully with other approaches.

As such approaches prove effective, we are committed to a big expansion of WORLD's circulation over the next four or five years. We believe our society, swamped as it is with media secularism, needs a weekly voice like WORLD's to encourage a perspective of God-centered thinking (and activism) about all the issues that make up human culture. If there's room for three major newsweeklies with a secular slant, shouldn't there be room for at least one with a Christian slant?

At 135,000, of course, WORLD is just a fraction the size of Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report. At 135,000, we are in the same circulation neighborhood as National Review and Christianity Today-although unlike them, we publish every week. And at 135,000, we are significantly bigger than The Weekly Standard and The New Republic.

Delivery We've already told you in recent weeks about gratifying gains on the delivery front. Nationwide, we're getting reports that WORLD is arriving in your homes a full two days earlier than it was just six months ago. But we're not satisfied yet. Such improvement simply shows that it can be done.

Customer Service We are determined to make it easy for you to deal with us-to subscribe, to renew, to change your address, or to give gift subscriptions to your relatives and friends. During the coming year, we expect two significant changes on this front. We expect about July 1 to bring our customer service division back under our own roof rather than outsourcing it as we have for the last two and a half years. And we expect to make it easy for you to keep track of all these details on the internet.

Editorial Here, of course, is the core of the whole matter. WORLD has to be radically different from everything else out there to get your attention in the first place. But it has to be just as good or better if it's going to hold your attention over the long run. We are committed on both those fronts.

Editor-in-Chief Marvin Olasky, Editor Nick Eicher, and Managing Editor Tim Lamer have begun assembling an outstanding team. Who in American journalism puts together more colorfully fluid prose than Bob Jones? Who analyzes the nooks and crannies of culture better than Ed Veith? Who goes more fearlessly than Mindy Belz to help you understand dangerous places in the world? And the reporting of Lynn Vincent, Ed Plowman, Chris Stamper, Priya Abraham, John Dawson, and Andrew Coffin gives you a remarkably competent perspective on a very diverse set of subjects. Compare this issue of WORLD to any issue just a year ago; you'll be impressed with the increased breadth of coverage.

Yet no one knows better than the editors how slender and fragile is the structure on which this editorial team is assembled. Unless every detail goes right every week, that week's issue is threatened. WORLD still has too little depth in its editorial team, and little or no redundancy. That represents a major assignment over the coming year.

Your part The simple fact is that the process of deepening and broadening WORLD's editorial package every week must go hand-in-hand with deepening and broadening our circulation. But while we take seriously our assignment to do thoughtful, measured marketing in the months ahead, we also understand no one can market WORLD as effectively as you, our readers. Your recommendations of this magazine to your friends are literally priceless.


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