Readers of the Anglican Journal are required to confirm their subscriptions by mail, online, by phone or by email to continue to receive the print edition of the paper beyond the June 2019 issue.
The joint working group on print publications of the Anglican Church of Canada, made up of the Anglican Journal coordinating committee and the communications and information resources coordinating committee, suggested to the Council of General Synod (CoGS) in November that the church could save a sizeable amount of money on postage by verifying that people on the Journal’s subscriber list actually want to receive the paper.
According to Archdeacon Michael Thompson, general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, when a recent survey of a large number of Journal subscribers was mailed out, 10% were returned as “unknown at this address.” If 10% of addresses in the Journal’s subscription database are out of date, removing them could save thousands of dollars in postage, Thompson says.
The Journal’s total postage expenditure in 2017 was $949,594. This cost is expected to rise, with a postage increase set for 2019 by Canada post. (The Journal receives a variable grant of approximately $455,000 from Heritage Canada to help defray this cost, and a $240,000 contribution from the dioceses that mail a paper with the Anglican Journal.)
The total budget of the Anglican Journal is more than $1.8 million per year. Income sources include donations through the Anglican Journal Appeal and funding from General Synod, which contributed more than $700,000 in 2018.
The initiative is to ensure the Journal’s subscription list is “as accurate as possible,” says the Rev. Karen Egan, co-chair of the working group and chair of the communications and information resources coordinating committee.
According to the working group’s final report to CoGS, the survey found that one in four Anglicans said they would prefer not to receive the Anglican Journal in print. Removing those from the subscription list could save about $100,000 annually in printing and postage costs, the report stated.
In an email interview with the Journal, Thompson said that the subscription database “[has been] maintained by means of the circulation to each parish of a printed list of parish members currently on the subscriber list. Parishes are then required to remove those no longer on the parish’s list, and to write in the names of new subscribers.”
Taking into consideration readers who cannot, for whatever reason, access the paper online was important to the working group, Egan says. “That’s one of the main reasons why at this point we did not recommend the paper stop being printed.”
For people who can’t opt in online, there will be several ways to do so, she says, in order to “cover everybody.” Readers can confirm their subscription by mail, emailing email@example.com, submitting an online form at anglicanjournal.com/yes, or calling the toll-free number 1-866-333-0959. Mail-in forms are included in the January through May issues of the Journal.
“I am thinking of this primarily as a means to ensure that we are good stewards of the generosity of the church—dioceses and donors to the Journal Appeal,” says Thompson.
“The costs of the Journal are going up, and what the committee is really dedicated to is making sure that the Journal is supported, and supported in terms of staff and editorial costs, and not entirely overwhelmed by printing and distribution costs, which are really high…it’s really all about making the Journal as healthy as possible,” says Egan.
In November 2018, CoGS voted to recommend to General Synod in July that the Anglican Journal and diocesan papers adopt a “transition strategy” from paper to digital for 2019-2022, but continue to distribute the Journal in print for the time being.
The Anglican Journal is published 10 times per year and is available in print or online. It has been published since 1875 and is the oldest and largest religious publication in Canada.