Editor’s Word: 150 Years and Still Alive

Mark Twain was in London on a speaking tour when the rumor of his death began to circulate in the United States. A reporter from the New York Journal contacted Twain and wrote an article on June 2, 1897, that included what is now a famous quote. Twain said, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated!”

Today, print media in its many forms is rumored to be dead or on life support. It is true that since the rise of the digital age, especially the mobility of smart phones and tablets, print has suffered losses in circulation — especially daily newspapers. State Baptist publications have also decreased since the rise of digital and mobile technology. However, it would be an oversight to assume print is dead.

Some leaders in the media have concluded that the future will belong to those who have a balanced position in both digital and print communications. Today, the AARP Magazine is the top magazine, with a circulation that exceeds 38 million readers. People still read magazines and go to advertisers and websites they find in the printed pages. It’s not just seniors either. According to the Magazine Media Fact Book, people under 25 read magazines more often than those over 55. The top 25 print magazines in the country reach more teens and adults than the top 25 primetime television shows.

There is no question that our mobile devices have revolutionized the way we access information and even communicate with each other. We live at a time when breaking news is almost instantly available. The news may not always be accurate, but it is available. The problem with our secular press today is that far too many do not report the news but make news themselves, slant the news, and, in some cases, even make up news. The internet, as a whole, is a convenience of our age, but much of the information we get from the World Wide Web is not reliable.

The Courier turns 150 years old in July. Over these many years, our publication has undergone many changes. We now offer a full color, feature-oriented, monthly magazine with a website that is constantly updated to provide the latest news about and for Baptists.

While our print readership has diminished, our online readership has increased. They are practically equal today. Our goal is to have one foot planted in the print world and the other foot securely fixed in the digital world. One magazine leader observed, “Successful magazines are the ones who have reinvented themselves.” The Courier has changed how we look but not who we are. Our goal is to tell the stories of those who are telling THE story of Jesus Christ and His redeeming love. In the future, we will seek to develop a video component that we hope will become a regular part of our weekly offerings to the Baptists of South Carolina.

Technology continues to develop at a rapid pace. Recently, some financial experts talked to us about things that will likely be taking place in the not too distant future: battery-powered freight trucks that are driverless; commuter pod cars that are also driverless in the major metropolitan areas of our country; and robot and drone package delivery services. There are more predictions that seem to be on track for becoming reality sooner than we might expect.

The Courier is 150 years old, but it is not worn out or outdated. We are continually striving to find the balance that brings together our rich legacy and our present opportunities in a way that informs and inspires people to know Christ better and serve Him greater.

Print is not dead, and the death of print media is an exaggeration. Some years ago, it was stated that the future of print will look different. It was predicted that print publications would become smaller but better. Someday print media may die, but print publications could outlive all of us!

We are a ministry partner of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, and we will continue to serve the Baptists of this state with honesty, integrity and commitment. The Courier is 150 years old, but it’s still alive. Here’s to the next 150 years!