Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Adventist Media Must Change

I just got my annual fund-raising letter from Adventist Today. Most of the letter is about Adventist Publishing houses. The fire at Battle Creek in the early 1900's when the church had one publishing house and then the move to have a couple publishing houses and now some proposal to consolidate publishing houses again.

Adventist Today as an alternative publication sees itself as an important source of needed information and analysis.

At the same day that I received the letter from Adventist Today I heard of the report on media usage in the United States. To sum up the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism’s “State of the News Media” report writes:
Overall, digital news channels are growing (vs. traditional media). Digital has surpassed radio and print in terms of audience size and engagement frequency. Digital will soon overtake TV as the primary news platform.
If anyone pays attention to the magazine and book publishing business they would likely question whether doing anything aside from trying to save money with your publishing costs would be the thing to do while you retool to prepare to transition to a digital format.

I have no idea what the Adventist church will do, they are in most ways far behind the curve so I imagine they will end up falling farther behind as well. But I would like to make some recommendations for Adventist Today.

That would be to spend their money on updating their digital presence to actually use the internet to their advantage. Certainly they already have a digital version of their print magazine which is a good idea but it really keeps them from the most advantages methods of the new digital age which is social networking.

The Pew report says:
Hearing about things in the news from friends and family, whether via social media or actual word of mouth, leads to deeper news consumption. A majority of Americans seek out a full news story after hearing about an event or issue from friends and family, a new Pew Research survey released here finds. For nearly three-quarters of adults (72%), the most common way to get news from friends and family is by having someone talk to them—either in person or over the phone. And among that group, close to two-thirds (63%) somewhat or very often seek out a news story about that event or issue. Social networking is now a part of this process as well: 15% of U.S. adults get most of their news from friends and family this way, and the vast majority of them (77%) follow links to full news stories. Among 18-to-29 year-olds, the percentage that primarily relies on social media for this kind of news already reaches nearly one-quarter. And the growing practice of dual-screening major news events adds more opportunity to share news electronically. Friends and family are still just one part of most consumers’ news diets –and a smaller part than going directly to news outlet themselves, as an earlier Pew Research study revealed.
But if you look over at you can read their blogs and their articles posted and rarely will you see them link to anyone or anything even when they directly mention a story. As an example here is a recent news article headline: Forbes Magazine Includes Andrews University in list of Top Schools

Now it would have been easy to link to the Forbes article. I found it at this address from which you can see the entire list etc. In the digital world it is easy to link to an article so that people can verify the information or use it to forward on a social media site. The case is similar for their opinion pieces rarely linking to anything they talk about. Take for example this from Stephen Foster's The Mini Great Controversy:
It makes about as much sense (to me) for a Seventh-day Adventist Christian to challenge the inspiration and authority of Ellen White as it does for a Calvinist to challenge the theological authority/bona fides of John Calvin, or a Lutheran of Luther. Yet some members of the voluntary Christian sect or denomination which was co-founded by White—whose commentary on the Bible and whose exegeses and interpretation of the Bible are the result of a prophetic gifting of God—routinely reject her messages (and/or reject the reality of her gifting).

Contradictorily and ironically,
some of these individuals believe that they have been given the same or similar gifting; and that, since they live in the present, their gifting is representative of present truth—even though their “truth” may deny or contradict some of what White wrote in great detail.
Some of who? Would not it be nice to link to such people so we know what the author is even talking about? Or at least know who in contemporary Adventism feel they have the gifting of present truth?

One of the most popular news sites visited according to the Pew report is the Huffington Post Second only to Yahoo news which gets more hits most likely because it is a common browser opening page and they write headlines to gather hits but give little information. For example today they have the headline “Oprah Winfrey Finally Comments on Paula Deen's N-Word Controversy, which amounted to
When asked to comment about Deen during an interview with Extra, Winfrey laughed but declined to say anything more about the disgraced TV personality. "Oh my god! I don't have anything to do with Paula Deen," she insisted. "She is not the first white lady to use the N-word! Good lord!"
When you read the Huffington Post you see numerous links inside practically all of their articles. That is the same with all of the top sites as well. They send you to someone who wrote something more specific to a particular part of their own article. In doing that you can quickly get far more information then footnotes and you don't have to try and figure out what the person was trying to reference who did not even include a footnote or even a reference as in Stephen Foster's article.

When you realize how this simple communication technique opens up information and expand the resources for researching a fact or idea you see why print media will be dead in the near future. It simply cannot compete. It also makes certain that the writer of an article actually knows more about the subject. Something that when I read some of the opinion pieces on AToday I often wonder do they even know what they are talking about.

In the world people are becoming far more critical of the media they receive. They are skeptical of the news they hear and they should be. That has reflected itself in the decline of the traditional news media and the rise in the new media. It would be hard to assume that such will not be the case with religious media as well. Particularly with the alternative denomination media. It is time that Adventist Today begins to catch up with the times.

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