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Editorial: The rebirth of The Christian Index

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A screen grab of www.christianindex.org is flanked by The Latter Day Luminary, left, and A screen grab of www.christianindex.org is flanked by The Latter Day Luminary, left, and The Columbian Star.

DULUTH – The Christian Index is now FREE online to every person on Earth. Not only do we want to make it available to every Georgia Baptist, we want to make it a staple part of everyone’s reading diet on the planet. Go to christianindex.org to see our new website, which we firmly believe will allow us to expand our readership and eliminate all subscription fees.

The Christian Index has been a leader among Christian newspapers in America for almost two centuries. It has served Georgia Baptists and the cause of Christ well for more than 193 years.

However, in order to preserve the name and brand called The Christian Index, the time has come for a reinvention, or rebirth, of America’s oldest continually published religious newspaper. The decision to make this change will once again make The Index a pacesetter among state Baptist publications.

With that being said we are hereby announcing the migration of our printed edition primarily to an online publication of your Georgia Baptist state paper. The last biweekly printed edition of The Christian Index will be dated on December 24, 2015.

In recent years it has become increasingly inevitable that The Index would have to become an electronic publication only. Here are the facts that have contributed to that eventuality:

For about seven years The Index has been losing subscribers and becoming more dependent on the Cooperative Program.

The Christian Index has been a leader among Christian newspapers in America for almost two centuries. It has served Georgia Baptists and the cause of Christ well for more than 193 years.

The cost of newsprint and postage has continued to increase. By going to an online edition only we will save almost $320,000 annually in printing and mailing costs.

More and more people are reading the news on their smartphones, tablets, and computers.

Major newspapers such as New Orleans’ Times-Picayune and the Birmingham News have shifted their focus largely to the web, reducing their printed editions to three days a week instead of seven days.

The Pew Research Center recently reported that newspaper circulation has now fallen 19% since 2004. The research organization also reported that at the start of 2015, 39 of the top 50 digital news websites have more traffic to their sites and associated applications coming from mobile devices than from desktop computers. They are calling it a mobile majority.

This decision will allow us to bring our entire operations in-house as we begin to share personnel and resources with our GBC Communications ministry, a decision that will save another $60,000.

This will allow us to produce more up-to-date news items by posting stories and sharing opinions on events almost as soon as they happen. News alerts featuring political, ethical, and cultural issues can also be posted on The Index website expeditiously.

The new site is fully responsive, which means it will automatically resize to fit any computer, laptop, or device you choose to use.

We believe this change will allow us to substantially increase our number of readers, particularly younger readers.

We will be able to use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) to drive people to our website, thus increasing our readership.

We believe this will also make The Index an extremely attractive venue for advertising products and events because of the increased number of readers that will be drawn to the website. We have already begun to broadcast editorials and certain news features on our GBC Life With Purpose and Internet radio broadcasts.

This will allow us to produce more up-to-date news items by posting stories and sharing opinions on events almost as soon as they happen.

The new website will be much easier to navigate, much easier to find the news you want to read, and include most of the news and information you are accustomed to reading in The Index and much, much more.

Pastors can help us increase our number of readers by sending us the email addresses of church members and anyone who may be interested in becoming an online subscriber. We will not share email addresses with anyone outside the Baptist Missions and Ministry Center and those who do not wish to receive The Christian Index email updates may opt out with a single click.

Those who do not have smart phones or computers will be able to read their Baptist state publication on a tablet or other electronic reading device, which can be purchased at discount stores for less than $50.

For those who prefer a print presentation, we will also provide a weekly synopsis in pdf form of The Index that each church can download and print for those who prefer to hold a paper in their hands.

Additionally, in order to make this transition as smooth and effective as possible we will still provide a monthly synopsis of The Index to those who specifically request it. This special offer is being made primarily to our senior adults with a possible minimal cost and will include features most requested by them as determined by a pending survey.

Changes are never easy for most of us, but the Christian life is all about change. We are to be changing daily – more into the image of Christ and less in the image of the old self.

Edward Deming once said, “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” The survival of The Christian Index is imperative and therefore, these changes are designed to enhance and secure the future for your Baptist state paper.

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