Anglican Editors meeting heralded times are changing

Hollis Hiscock

The future of print and the expansion of digital communications occupied Anglican editors representing 24 diocesan papers from across Canada when the Anglican Editors Association (AEA) met for their annual conference in May.

During the marathon seven-hour business session on Saturday, May 4, 2019, I sat in my study office in Burlington, Ontario, while the editors gathered in a university classroom in Winnipeg, Manitoba. We who were not physically present participated fully through modern technology.

After outlining principles of print design, Saskia Rowling, Art Director for the Anglican Journal, critiqued individual diocesan papers. She called the Niagara Anglican “great”, noting that the front page extended five invitations for readers to delve further into the paper. She liked the use of colour, the font size, the white spacing between lines and the lovely design.

The Anglican Journal annual appeal had another successful year in 2018. In Niagara Diocese, 764 people donated $36,643, the third highest in Canada. After expenses, the funds are divided equally between the Anglican Journal and Niagara Anglican.

Circulation figures revealed a drop of 2.64% compared with the national average of 3.68%. For the Niagara Anglican it meant a change from 7,921 to 7,703 between June 2018 and June 2019. Only three other diocesan papers have more subscribers than the Niagara Anglican.

Niagara Anglican readers want to continue receiving both papers in print. By the end of April, 2,602 had confirmed their subscription intention. This represents 33.8% of 7,703 responding in Niagara Diocese compared with 20.7% of the Anglican Journal’s nearly 120,000 subscribers. As people confirm their desire to continue receiving both papers, they are also sending donations to support their continued publication.

Attending his first AEA conference, Matthew Townsend, recently appointed Editorial Supervisor for the Anglican Journal, spoke about the opting in program and reflected on possible reactions during this transitional period. He said there is great love for the print version of both the national and local papers and he seemed optimistic that print would continue. “We should try new things while continuing with the old,” he concluded.

It was also reported that in May each parish across Canada received a letter encouraging them to respond immediately to confirm their subscriptions.

A new organization structure and editorial policy for the Anglican Journal were recently approved by the Council of General Synod.

Editor Mark Hauser of Ontario’s Crosstalk was elected President of AEA, replacing Editor James Sweeny of Quebec’s Diocesan Gazette.