Will you drop us a line?

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Tell us what you think about the Anglican Journal and its future, either by sending a letter by mail or via email, editor@national.anglican.ca Photo: Mind and I/Shutterstock

(This article first appeared in the September 2017 issue of the Anglican Journal.)

“I am 96—so if I don’t reply next year—I’m probably gone to be with God.”

Of all the letters that I’ve received so far as editor, this is hands down my favourite. Written in shaky but legible cursive, on the donor reply card of the Anglican Journal Annual Appeal, the letter-writer, from Quill Lake, Sask., also ticked on the box for a suggested $140 donation (it was the Journal’s 140th anniversary in 2015) and under contact email wrote: “None.”

Here’s a runner-up, also written on the donor reply card and addressed not just
 to me but to Stuart Mann, editor of The Anglican, the newspaper of the diocese of Toronto: “I felt I would like to contribute a little more than you asked. It is my 93rd year, so I have had many years experiencing The Anglican and the Anglican Journal. God’s very rich blessings.” Instead of the suggested $140 donation, our kind reader sent $280.

Allow me to indulge with an excerpt from one more memorable letter, written on behalf of a faithful reader in a nursing home: “She is concerned that she has not received her Anglican Journal for June 2016, nor her New Brunswick Anglican. It is her favourite reading material and she is anxious to keep up to date! ”
These letters, along with a stack that I have on file, are testaments of the financial and moral support for the Journal and its 19 diocesan partner newspapers.

The Journal exists, in part, because 
a number of its readers vote with their wallets. Since its inception in 1994, the Anglican Journal Appeal has raised over $9.8 million and returned over $3.6 million to its diocesan partners. Last year, the Appeal raised $496,414, thanks to the generosity
 of our donors and readers. Money raised from the appeal represents a crucial 25.3% of the Journal’s annual budget, which also includes funding from General Synod (30.4%), a grant from Heritage Canada (20.9%); distribution income from dioceses (11.4%), advertising revenue (11.2%) and others.

So why—despite proclamations that print media is dead—do some of our readers want to keep receiving the Journal? Here’s a sampling of what you have told us in letters and emails:

  • “This Journal does enhance my understanding of the national church. The articles often stoke my believing.”
  • “There’s a greater sense of family when we share the news of other parishes.”
  • “I have often used parts of articles or indeed complete articles to build a sustainable talk when it’s my turn to lead when our priest isn’t there. I also enjoy reading about other congregations and individuals.”
  • “You provide space for Anglicans to join the conversation.”

Not every letter we receive is a pat on the back, of course. Some readers are livid when we cover stories not to their liking and have even cancelled their subscription. Others offer us critique and suggestions; some point out errors in our reporting. We are grateful for this feedback, which helps keep us accountable and, ultimately, makes the newspaper better.

There are also those who prefer to get their news online and wonder why the Journal continues to be printed. It is a question that has been asked for years,
 and increasingly now with the decline of print media in general. Another perennial question raised by some is whether the Journal should remain editorially independent—have the freedom to make decisions about the newspaper’s content without any interference from the publisher and vested interests. Two co-ordinating committees of General Synod are currently delving into this question and have promised to consult the Journal’s various stakeholders.

I invite you to tell us what you think about the Journal and its future, either by sending a letter by mail or via email at editor@national.anglican.ca

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Marites N. Sison
Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I believe the Journal should continue to be printed because I am visual person and I to the paper in my hands. I find riding in magazine online is hard on my eyes. Keep printing it. God bless

  2. “Some readers are livid when we cover stories not to their liking and have even cancelled their subscription.” Well do tell us more. What kind of stories are people angry about? The stories in The Journal about The Journal dance around the issue of the renewed attacks on Journal editorial independence. Whose agenda is this? What is their investment in this? Is it related to the large swathe of fundamentalism and quasi-fundamentalism that exists in our church, much of it apparently based in rural and/or western Canada? Clearly some folks are unhappy with any degree of transparency.

    Rather than relying soley on a letter writing campaign The Journal might actually try a more vigorous exercising of its editorial independence. Critics of the Journal’s independence really do not have much to complain about. After all, two of the regular contributors, The Primate and the National Aboriginal Bishop, are regular contributors. Lovely though their scribblings often are, they are on the organization friendly end of the continuum of opinion. . How frequently has the Journal offered critical opinion of the view from inside the church house bubble? Less constrained use of Independence may attract new readers.

    As for subscription cancellations, that will be my response if critics of editorial independence are successful in their coup. If General Synod structure wants to do something to improve communications, my suggestion is leave Anglican Journal in print and independent, and focus instead on improving the Anglican Church of Canada website. It tends to obstruct rather than facilitate access to update information.

  3. “After all, two of the regular contributors, The Primate and the National Aboriginal Bishop, are regular contributors.”

    That ought to read, “After all, two of the hierarchy, The Primate and the National Aboriginal Bishop, are regular contributors.” My bad.

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