When I assumed the role of president and publisher of Christianity Today International over two years ago, little did I—or anyone—anticipate the "perfect storm" that is now reshaping the media landscape. Diminishing ad dollars, sagging circulation, and the global economic downturn have left storied media brands wondering what's next. Earlier this year, Atlantic contributing editor Michael Hirschorn speculated: "What if the old media dies much more quickly? … Specifically, what if The New York Times goes out of business—like, this May?"
Well, it's July, and "All the News That's Fit to Print" still finds its place on our receptionist's desk. Much the same way this issue of Christianity Today—assuming you're reading it in print—has again made its way into your home.
Still, the question of print's viability in the midst of this financial downturn has given rise to myriad Hirschorn-like speculations. In the wake of several difficult layoffs and publication closures at our parent ministry—Christianity Today International—questions about our own future have, not surprisingly, been raised.
At the risk of sounding blind to the new realities, let me share three reasons I am confident that God is not finished with CT or CTI yet. First, there's our unique call. That call came by way of our founder, Billy Graham, who envisioned, under the Spirit's leading, a ministry that could engage, encourage, and equip pastors, church leaders, thought leaders, academicians, and culture makers—and could do so compellingly through quality content that was journalistically excellent in every way: accurate, creatively presented, fair-minded, intellectually sound, theologically orthodox, irenic, clear, accessible, church-supporting, and Christ-honoring.
Today, that call remains the missional bedrock of this administration, this publication, and this ministry. Judging from your mail, it's the reason people like you continue to subscribe in numbers and renewals that make the bottom line for both CT and Leadership journal surprisingly strong.
A second reason for my confidence: the opportunity to more fully cultivate these already strong core titles. Our recent cutbacks have forced a renewed focus on those publications and related websites directly tied to Graham's original vision, beginning with CT and Leadership. This ministry-wide sharpening has already redirected our creative energies and resources to finding new ways of taking our award-winning core content into ever-expanding ministry venues.
Therefore, in the days ahead, look for a makeover in both CT print and online—and for ways that you can be a part of this core expansion. Also look for a new website for Books & Culture. And, within our Leadership Media Group, watch for a new content-rich website for women in leadership. And that's just a start.
We want our call and our core to ultimately serve you, our readers—all 2.5 million of you! Between our Web ministry and various print publications, that's how many men and women are drawing from the Christian content that, according to our vision statement, "changes the people who change the world."
Laura from Shannon Hills, Arkansas, recently wrote us: "I am standing in the mission field today … wherever I am, whatever I am doing—I want to move with the impulse of Jesus Christ. I can't do so unless I am grounded in his teaching, his living, his Spirit, and looking at God always. So I read CT to see how others do that, to try to understand how."
Letters like Laura's are the third reason I believe God is not finished with what he began 53 years ago. In fact, I'm thinking he's only just begun.
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Christianity Today has a special section on the economic crisis on our site.
Previous articles about Harold Smith or the CTI leadership include:
Print Plus | New CEO and editor in chief Harold Smith believes in both electrons and ink. (April 24, 2007)
From the CEO: Who's Who on the CTI Masthead | Christianity Today 's editors, past and present, pack a theological punch. (December 4, 2000)
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