Voices

Light 20 candles

A nontraditional message to our nontraditional readers

Issue: "Tighter lips?," Feb. 18, 2006

Next month, we'll be marking WORLD magazine's 20th birthday. The inaugural issue was actually dated March 17, 1986-and we boldly printed 5,000 copies. Some folks tell me they're still holding on to copies of that issue, with pictures of Phil Gramm and Warren Rudman on the cover, hoping it will become a collector's item. I'm flattered, but my guess is they'll have to wait a very long time before such relics are worth anything substantial.

Consistent pro-lifers might argue, of course, that life begins at conception, and that therefore we should have celebrated WORLD's birthday some time ago. Just when the WORLD idea was first conceived, though, remains a bit blurry in my own mind. I remember we did a couple of prototype "sonogram" issues just to see what the new baby might look like. The real magazine was hatched, as I say, on March 17, 1986.

Then just 13 issues after it was born, the infant WORLD had to be rushed into the neonatal care unit and put on life support. In fact, WORLD was broke-a needy orphan-and had no public visibility from June 1986 until the following spring, when Volume 2 was launched on April 6, 1987. We have published without interruption ever since-except for a single week in March 1993 when a giant snowstorm caved in part of the roof of the building where we publish and prompted public officials to close the entire facility. We shoveled a lot of snow, and then published a double issue the next week.

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We think a 20th birthday is worth celebrating a bit, just arriving at adulthood and all. So over the next few weeks we hope to reflect a little on our childhood, our adolescence, and maybe even-well, isn't it when you're 20 that you leave your freshman and sophomore years behind? In good adult fashion, we'll invite you to weigh with us how much we've learned and matured.

We'd also like to invite you to be another part of our 20th birthday celebration. We'd like to find new ways over the coming months of seriously expanding the stage on which WORLD does its weekly performance.

You may welcome a little perspective on the dimensions of the present stage. WORLD goes every week to about 135,000 paid subscribers. That puts WORLD in a leadership role on several fronts. Among evangelical Christian periodicals, it makes us one of the half-dozen largest circulation magazines out there-roughly the same, for example, as the long-time leader, Christianity Today. But when you consider that WORLD is weekly, and therefore multiply that 135,000 by 50 instead of just 12, you'll sense the dramatic advantage in "reader contacts" that WORLD enjoys.

On the secular front, WORLD's circulation is similar to that of National Review, and significantly larger than that of The Weekly Standard, The New Republic, and Human Events. Among general news weeklies, Time has about 4 million subscribers, Newsweek about 3 million, U.S. News & World Report about 2 million. The gap between WORLD and those magazines is a big one. We think it's a gap that ought to be narrowed-and we'd like your help in closing it. The secularists have enough advantages; here's a chance to deny them just one they've enjoyed long enough.

Through our entire 20-year history, the biggest source of new subscribers we've ever enjoyed has been the recommendations and gift subscriptions of those, like you, who are already reading the magazine each week. No one markets WORLD as effectively as you do. Your recommendations of the magazine to others are literally priceless. So it's with that in mind that during the rest of February and during our birthday month of March, we're offering a 20 percent discount on new U.S. gift subscriptions from present subscribers. Use the special card inserted here-or e-mail or call us. Our efficient customer service team will take personal interest in what you have to say.

Will you light a birthday candle that way this week? Will you help WORLD multiply its weekly outreach? We understand this isn't the traditional way to grow a magazine. But you've never considered WORLD to be a traditional magazine-and obviously, we don't think of you either as a traditional reader.

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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