May 08

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Bytes or ink in your veins?

On Thursday and Friday of this week I will be in Toronto for the annual Canadian Church Press conference. I serve as the association’s vice-president.

CCP is more than 50 years old and began as a networking opportunity for church publications, most denomination-based. As independent Christian publications came along, then newsletters and websites its focus became a bit broader.

This year’s conference is focused squarely on the impact of social media and what publications can do to make the most of new opportunities.

For some, the new communication realities are difficult to embrace, maybe even understand. Unless someone has taken the time and interest to keep up with the latest developments, it’s so easy to be left behind.

Recent surveys say that even at the corporate level, upper management, usually those with the longest work experience, are only now beginning to understand how social media works. Email was easy: correspondence on a screen rather than paper. But things like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Pinterest bear little resemblance to anything businesses or society have ever encountered.

However, innovation doesn’t necessarily spell the end of any particular communication medium. As my friend and former colleague Stan Gilbert at OMM Productions reminded me recently, movies didn’t stop theatre; radio did not kill newspapers; television did not spell the end of radio; the Internet does not threaten the end of television. Everything adapts and evolves. No media is the same as it was when it first came on the scene. Even some newspapers changed their front page to what they call the “point and click” approach that resembles an online version. No partial stories, only photos and where to find the details.

I’ve spent the first part of this week preparing a presentation for the convention on moving your publication “beyond the pew.” The point I make is that the Internet does not replace the printed publication, but expands its circulation.

If publishers and editors can grasp this reality, changes in media will not be a threat, but an opportunity for creative thinking.

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