I’m a fan of Group and Youthworker Journal and have been a subscriber to both for nearly 30 years. I’ve also been honored with writing articles for them, including cover articles. I’m such a fan that I still receive them in paper-form, the form this “older” person much prefers.
In an interesting twist my life took, I’m also the owner of a paintball magazine, PaintballX3. I know firsthand the tumble everything in the publishing world has taken over the last ten years and I’m not too sure what place magazines will have in the future. I know the reasons why PaintballX3 is only available in a digital format. It has little to do with printing costs and much to do about no one wanting to read a magazine anymore or wanting to carry 10 magazines on their tablet.
So I find it sad that both Group and Youthworker Journal had to “jump the shark” by placing personalities on their recent covers. I also understand the decision. While Group has done this periodically, it has been a rarity for Youthworker Journal to stray from the theme on their cover. My problem with it is youth ministry is not personality-driven. We have enough problems with strong personalities leading church ministries that may not match the church vision. And youth ministry is not improved by promoting personalities. While they offer unique insight and inspiration, it is not practical for me in my situation. But it is not the message or value of either of these publications.
I hope this is not a sign of the end of both of these great resources. I have no inside knowledge to this.
With my paintball magazine (the last surviving one in all of paintball world), we have learned that there is still a need for professionally-generated content, as opposed to user-generated content that you see in blogs, forums, and social media. The same is true in youth ministry world. There is a lot of user-generated content out there but there is a need for professionally-generated content.
The best way for you to support these magazines during this season of publishing flux (it’s happening to every magazine) is to:
- Support the advertisers. This is the strongest thing you can do. Visit their websites. Sincerely check out their resources. Leave them comments. Their dollars mean everything to publishers. So for the advertiser to know that the ad has reached you, it becomes dollars well spent. Don’t forget the banner ads on the homepages too.
- Drop the editors a note of encouragement that you appreciate the professionally-generated content. For Group you can contact Rick Lawrence at firstname.lastname@example.org. The editor for YWJ is in flux now but you can send the comments to Amy Lee (the glue of YWJ) at ALee@SalemPublishing.com.
If you are on a roll thanking these people, please go ahead and thank the advertisers of PaintballX3. You can find the magazine at www.PaintballX3.com.
One last note. Over the 20+ years of publishing a paintball magazine, we’ve had opportunities to put personalities on the cover. We’ve turned down them down including Dick Clark (when he was alive), William Shatner, Ice Cube, and our dear friend (before his death) Maurice Gibbs. Yes, I am just name-dropping now.