From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Task Force Says to Keep "Monday Morning," Eliminate "THE NEWS"

Date 04 May 1996 20:51:51


96014   Task Force Says to Keep "Monday Morning," Eliminate "THE NEWS" 
                          by Alexa Smith 
ATLANTA--Recommendations to continue "Monday Morning" magazine  on a 
subscription-only basis and to cease publication of  "THE NEWS of the 
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)" will be made to the General Assembly Council 
at its February meeting by its Publications Task Force. 
     The task force, which met Jan. 4-6 here, also urged the Council to 
continue exploring the possibilities for the future development of an 
every-Presbyterian-household publication. 
     In the meantime, the task force is urging expanded distribution of 
"NEWS BRIEFS"  to include clerks of session and associate pastors in every 
church (it currently goes to "pastor/head of staff")  and the sending of 
"Presbyterians Today," augmented by a special "leadership section," free to 
every sitting elder four times each year 
     The GAC will vote on the recommendations during its Feb. 21-25 meeting 
in Louisville. 
     If approved, the changes could free up $209,054 from the tabloid's 
budget and $155,052 total from the per capita and mission budgets for 
publication of "Monday Morning" to pay for new and expanded activities 
within the Office of Communication.  Those include programming in 
electronic communications, projects within the Church and Public Relations 
Office and financial support for "Presbyterians Today." 
     "I don't realistically see the possibility of doing everything we've 
done in the past and things we're asked to do for the future," said Gary W. 
Luhr, director of the Office of Communication.  His recommendations to the 
Council last fall to stop publishing both "THE NEWS" and "Monday Morning" 
spawned the task force's study.   
     "A lot of these things we need to be doing we're actually charged to 
do. ... But we're limited by budgetary restraints.  Priority setting needs 
to happen because the dollars only stretch so far," said Luhr. 
     The 1995 budget for the Office of Communication was $2,737,253. 
     "Monday Morning" and "Presbyterians Today" generated revenue through 
subscriptions and advertising, but not enough to cover their expenses. 
Both publications continue to be underwritten by per capita dollars, with 
"Presbyterians Today"  anticipating an estimated $200,000 deficit for 1996, 
after losing about $100,000 in 1995.  "Monday Morning" is reporting a 
slight deficit for 1995 but is expecting to come out $56,000 ahead in 1996, 
due to new contracts for printing and formatting the magazine. 
     What consumed much of the task force's thinking was how to reach 
elders if "THE NEWS" -- the  only Office of Communication publication 
designed primarily for elders -- is eliminated, since not all pastors 
circulate "NEWS BRIEFS" to session members. 
      "We need to continue something that goes to sitting elders," said 
task force chair the Rev. Hugh Burroughs of Santa Monica, Calif., who said 
the decision to insert a special quarterly in-depth analysis section into 
"Presbyterians Today" for the denomination's 118,000 elders is a compromise 
the task force is willing to accept for now.  The magazine, too, is 
undergoing an evaluation of its finances and has launched a new promotional 
campaign to attract more subscribers. 
     The quarterly insert may cost the Office of Communication as much as a 
quarter of a million dollars, according to Steve Moulton, associate for 
administration, who has been assigned the task of running a cost analysis 
on all the recommendations. 
     Sending "NEWS BRIEFS" to clerks of session and associate pastors is 
the recommended starting point for further expanding its circulation 
(currently at 15,000) -- with the hope of eventually including Christian 
educators and extra-parish clergy in the mailings.   Burroughs pushed for 
the packet to include information in its "notes" section weekly on the 
General Assembly's four mission priorities and new initiatives. 
     An array of options surfaced about how to fund continuation of "Monday 
Morning," including giving it to the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. 
Task force member the Rev. John Coffin argued that "Monday Morning" is the 
only denominational publication that "lets the church talk back to you." 
And, he argued, it would be "politically unwise" to halt it. 
     Though the group agreed the "quality of exchange" is sometimes 
questionable in "Monday Morning," the consensus was that it ought to be 
given a chance to continue -- on a self-sustaining basis. The group is 
recommending that the Office of Communication review the publication 
schedule of "Monday Morning" and provide "minor editorial enhancement" for 
the magazine, such as soliciting balanced opinion pieces as full-time 
editors have done in the magazine's past. 
     The magazine currently has no full-time editor. 
     A 1992 General Assembly Commissioners' Resolution was referred to the 
task force.  It  instructs the magazine's advisory committee (which no 
longer exists due to 1993's restructure) to study alternative methods of 
funding "Monday Morning" so it may be mailed free to all clergy, not just 
some.  Another resolution  referred to the task force asked  that no clergy 
get subscriptions subsidized by mission or per capita budgets.  "It's a 
justice issue," said the Rev. Daniel Massie of Kingsport, Tenn. "We don't 
have the money to give it to everybody." 
     The group also discussed the possibility that the Board of Pensions 
may cease its practice of paying for complimentary subscriptions to "Monday 
Morning" for retired pastors, a cost-savings debate that has taken place at 
Board of Pensions meetings several times in the past few years.  The Office 
of the General Assembly has historically paid for parish clergy 
subscriptions to the magazine. 
     Funding to run a pilot project marketing "Presbyterians Today" as an 
every-household publication in at least three presbyteries is also to be 
considered by the Office of Communication, the task force was told.  The 
project is designed in part to test whether there is interest among 
Presbyterians in an every-household journal. 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


Browse month . . . Browse month (sort by Source) . . . Advanced Search & Browse . . . WFN Home