We want to hear your story
Has God given you a vision for magazine publishing? Over the years we have shared the stories of people through whom God has worked in their magazine publishing ministry. Their experience, their magazine, and their challenges are all different, but the call from God is the same. We want to hear your story. Have you launched a Christian magazine or restored an existing magazine? Please tell us how God led you into publishing and what has happened in the years since you began your publishing ministry. Please email Jennifer with the story of your journey.
Here are some of the stories of others God has called to magazine publishing:
- Alina and Estera
- Sarolta and Botond
Where do great ideas for your magazine, blog, or website come from? Everywhere!
As you plan content, you want to listen widely to gather more ideas than you need. The top of a funnel is very wide, it captures everything that flows from above. Just like a funnel, you want to collect many ideas for content, so that you aren’t limiting your thinking. Later in the planning process you need to narrow down the many ideas to a few great ones, but if you limit too soon, you might miss some great thinking.
Listen for needs
Whether you are scanning social media, blogs, or talking to people in your sphere of influence, listen to the needs people are expressing. Or the needs they are not sharing about. Often people will not be as direct as saying, “I need to learn how to handle conflict in my marriage.” But by observing how they act, what they share, and even what they don’t share, you may be able to infer their real needs.
As you listen to more sources and in different settings, try to spot trends. If you keep hearing similar needs or issues in several settings, pay attention. Your listening can include places such as coffee shops, lines in the grocery store, Bible studies, work groups or neighborhood gatherings.
Listen from diverse sources
While your content should focus on a specific audience segment, such as Christian families or Christian singles, listen to what people in different contexts are saying. Everything you hear may not apply to your audience, but let your listening reflect the widest part of the funnel at first. If you see lots of information in the secular press about how people are having difficulty finding affordable apartments, reflect on what this might mean for people in your audience.
Part of listening widely to diverse sources includes listening to people you don’t necessarily agree with. While articles that end up in your magazine or on your website should always reflect the values of your organization, you can learn about current challenges in culture by listening to people who don’t necessarily share these values. Consider what worldview is behind their thoughts or actions. How might your magazine help your readers see people who hold this worldview as Jesus sees them?
Listen to the Holy Spirit
The process of putting together a magazine can seem like a long list of tasks. From gathering lots of ideas, to focusing the content, to editing excellent articles, and finding great images—it’s a lot of work to create a magazine. But as a Christian magazine publisher, editor, or designer, you have help! You have the Holy Spirit guiding you.
Ask God to help you to listen, so that you will see new ideas. Ask God to put the right people in your path, so you can learn from their stories. Ask God to for extra insight as you go about your everyday life, so you will be aware of the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
By Carla Foote, Fine Print Editorial
The most important issue for a new or existing magazine (or newsletter, website, blog) is to clarify your target audience.
A new magazine needs to carefully define who they are serving with their publication. Saying that your magazine is for “everyone,” or “all Christians” is not an adequate response. Such a broad audience focus will make it difficult for you to evaluate whether particular content will meet the needs of your audience. It also makes it hard to find your readership, as you will need to share about your magazine with everyone or all the Christians in your area in order to develop a following.
It is tempting to define an audience broadly because you don’t want to exclude potential readers. But a broad, general focus will not distinguish your magazine from among a rack full of magazines. Why would someone choose to read your magazine? What unique attributes can you offer through your magazine?
A well-defined target audience doesn’t exclude other readers, but it clearly invites in those who match most closely with your core readers. Someone outside your target audience may read your magazine and even become a regular subscriber, but that’s because they have found that your content is interesting.
For example, a magazine focused on people under 30 who are interested in spiritual conversation and open to Christianity will have a design style that resonates with people in that age category. It will include articles that invite people into considering ideas about faith and promote questions and exploration on topics relevant to people under 30. Having such a clearly targeted audience doesn’t mean that someone older will not pick up and read your magazine. But it does mean that every piece of your magazine package is focused on meeting the needs of that under-30, spiritually-interested reader.
A clear focus helps every design and content decision. As your graphic designer is working on layouts or your editorial team is planning content (or you, if you are wearing all these hats), all the design and editorial decisions will be filtered through a consideration of how your target audience will react to the content and design.
Audience definition goes beyond age, gender, and faith position. As you work to align your magazine strategy with the needs of your audience, it is helpful to create a few fictitious personas to whom you are targeting your content. These can be based on actual people you know who fit your desired audience, or they can be a compilation of attributes that you know are characteristic of people in this stage of life.
What about an existing magazine? When do you need to re-define your target audience?
Your magazine strategy can carry your magazine through many years. However, at least once a year, when you do your annual planning cycle, revisit your target audience statement and consider if it is time to adjust your focus. You may combine this evaluation with a reader survey every few years, or with periodic questions on social media to get feedback.
One of the hardest things about a magazine targeted as an age demographic, is that you need to keep adding readers at the younger end of your niche, so you don’t “age out” of your audience. If your readers are parents, then over time your current readers age out of your audience and have grown children. You probably don’t want to shift your focus to older adults, but you need to continually replenish your core audience, so you keep serving parents in each successive generation. However, since there are always new parents who seek guidance, your audience can be replenished, if you stay relevant to the current needs of parents.
Defining your core audience and keeping your magazine content and design focused on the needs of this audience is essential for a sustainable magazine.
By Carla Foote, Fine Print Editorial
Are you looking for a simple way to organize the progress of every article for an issue of your magazine? And, not only have it organized, but have it all in one place? You need a production chart. The purpose of the production chart is to provide an overview of where each article stands in the production process for an entire issue.
The Least of These tells the story of Graham Staines, an Australian missionary in India, who was martyred, with his two sons, on January 22, 1999—twenty years ago. I remember when their deaths made the news. It was horrific.
The movie is told from the point of view of a journalist who sought evidence that Staines offered illegal inducements to conversion. It captures the sentiment of Hindu nationalists who strongly opposed Christian evangelism. It also portrays writers’ and editors’ concerns: the search for truth, the power of words to move others to action, the changing interests of readers, and the pursuit of profit.
I did not expect the movie to approach the Staines story with a journalist’s perspective, though this certainly heightened my interest. My connection to the story came a year and a half after the tragedy, when I published an article from Babu K. Verghese, an Indian writer and editor who detailed his organization’s efforts to publish a book on the matter. Burnt Alive: The Staines and the God They Loved was released in just 63 days, and became a bestseller for GLS. The article was featured in an InterLit magazine on publishing and persecution.
The tragedy and its aftermath remained in the news for years. What kept the story current were not only the crime reports and religious and political controversy, but its consequences. When Gladys Staines learned of her husband’s and sons’ deaths, her reaction stunned the public. She and her daughter forgave the killers. They put their trust in God. They looked to him for the future.
Staines remained in India, continuing her ministry. In 2005, India’s government gave her an award for her work serving lepers in Jesus’ name. In 2016, she received another award. And now, a movie will reach new audiences with the myriad of challenges these missionaries posed to those who learned their story.
Whose story will you tell today? How will you tell it? Who can help you to share the essentials with integrity, excellence, and sensitivity? How can you multiply its reach?
At Magazine Training International, we struggle with these questions. We work to equip and encourage media professionals who want to make an impact for Christ on their communities and nations. We do not do this alone; your partnership is vital. When you ask a question, offer feedback, participate in a webinar, or attend a conference, we can tackle these issues together. Unlike the lonely journalist in The Least of These, you and I have brothers and sisters to pray with, learn from, and to share our tears and joys. May we motivate one another toward more effective ministry!
— Kim Pettit, chair of MTI Board of Directors
Six times a year we host live workshops on various aspects of magazine publishing including writing, editing, management, design, and digital publishing. Occasionally we throw in topics like how to prevent burnout that we know you need. While we would love for all of you to join us during the live session, we know that just isn’t possible so we record every session. You can watch any of them for free, any time you want. Just login to MTI Online and check out our library of free resources.
To date, there are 33 recorded workshops, including:
|Cash Flow Projection: Planning for Success||Kent Wilson|
|Upgrade Your Digital and Print Magazine Publishing Models||John LaRue|
|Working with People||Marcos Simas|
|Mission Drift: Protecting What Matters Most||Chris Horst|
|Editorial Marketing in the Post-Truth Digital Era||Alex Yefetov|
|Powerful Cover Design: Making Your Magazine Stand Out||Anne Elhajoui|
|A Redesign Case Study: Christianity Today magazine||Gary Gnidovic|
|Visual Storytelling: Using Comics in Your Publication||Nate Butler|
|Magazine Design: Doing a Lot with Just a Little||Rick Szuecs|
|Typography: The Essential Art for Great Design||Anne Elhajoui|
|Publication Redesign: Strategies for Success||José Reyes|
|Digital Media Trends and Business Models||David Renard|
|How to Engage Your Audience in the Digital Space||Debbie Bates|
|Moving to a Mobile Age: The Eight Things You Must Know||Clyde Taber|
|Casting a Larger Net: Build Your Audience with Multiple Platforms||Rick Edwards|
|Print to Digital: Thinking differently about the same story||David Dixon|
|Mobiles in Mission: Using the Tool that’s in Everyone’s Pocket||Keith Williams, Brad Stoops|
|Structuring the Editorial Process||Carla Foote|
|Advanced Editing||Mark Galli|
|Dealing with Moral Issues in Publishing||Marshall Shelley|
|Tools for editors||Shibu Mathew|
|Selecting Manuscripts||Sally Isais|
|Influencing non-Christians for Christ Through Your Writing||Rusty Wright|
|Publicize Your Writing Online To Gain New Readers||Michael Smith|
|Writing the Personal Experience Article||Marlene Munar|
|Writing Features that Entertain, Delight, and, Sometimes, Inform||Michael Smith|
|Conducting Effective Interviews||DeWayne Hamby|
|Reporting in 2018: How to make sure your hard work actually gets read||Jeremy Weber|
|Be Social Already! Using social media to increase your influence||Marty Duren|
|Making Your Message Stick in an Infographic World||Jon Hirst|
|Practices that Sustain us in the Long Journey||Jedd Medefind|
|Preventing Burnout||Susan Mathis|
|Axis: The One Conversation Model||David Eaton|
Le cours d’Introduction à la publication d’un magazine est particulièrement destiné aux personnes travaillant en Afrique francophone pour des magazines chrétiens déjà existants ou à l’état de projet. Il propose de vous former sur la gestion, la rédaction et la conception graphique de magazines. Une équipe internationale de six instructeurs enseignera ce cours en Français. Les étudiants qui assistent à toutes les sessions recevront de la part de Magazine Training International une attestation certifiant que le cours a été suivi dans son intégralité.
Note: Unfortunately, we are unable to offer translation as this course will be offered entirely in French. Please let your friends in Francophone Africa who are interested in magazine publishing know about this conference.
I am looking to hire a managing editor based in NYC to lead a rebranded online magazine from The Media Project to be called ReligionUnplugged.com. We are looking for a tech forward, ambitious editor who knows how to build audience and has some knowledge / experience / interest with comparative religion and international affairs. They also need to have empathy and patience to edit and communicate with our network of contributors from around the world. Pay starts at $50k per year plus benefits.
We want to cast a wide net for the search so I appreciate you sharing the posting with your networks.
Executive Director of The Media Project
By Matthew Stibbe, Articulate Marketing
Typography affects your credibility
Errol Morris carried out an experiment on New York Times readers. Presenting the same information in different fonts, he tested how credible it seemed. Roughly 40,000 people responded to his quiz and it turned out that even small differences between apparently similar fonts had a big impact on believability. (Hat tip: The Week.)
The difference between Baskerville and Georgia was a jump of 1.5 percent. Not huge in itself but considering that it takes one click on the font menu to change from one to the other, you can see how important the choice of font is.
1. Dress for the occasion
You wouldn’t wear a onesie to work, so don’t use Comic Sans in business. In fact, Morris says: ‘The conscious awareness of Comic Sans promotes — at least among some people — contempt and summary dismissal.’ Just check out these hilarious logos of famous brands, redone using Comic Sans.
With Comic Sans, it’s not rocket science any more. (Source: CreativePool.)
The only exceptions I’ll admit is if you work in the comic book industry (but I bet they don’t use it either) or if you’re a complete genius who discovered the Higgs Boson, in which case you can do whatever you like.
2. Don’t use BLOCK CAPITALS
We recognise words largely from the shape they make rather than from the collection of shapes of the individual letters in the words, according to Kevin Larson, a researcher in ‘Advanced Reading Technology’ at Microsoft. (Full disclosure: Microsoft is an Articulate client.)
In other words we see this:
We see words. Letters, not so much. (Source: Microsoft)
The ascenders and descenders help us differentiate the words. But using ALL CAPS means that these vital clues are eliminated and the only visual difference between the words is their length. It increases the cognitive load on the reader’s brain, as anyone who has read a contract preamble or an internet rant in all-caps will attest.
4. How people read
How much we take in with each eye fixation. (Source: Wikipedia)
Sometimes we jump back when we miss something or don’t understand it. When this happens, there’s a double risk: you reduce comprehension and your reader may just stop reading altogether. Ouch!
Saccades, fixations and back skips. (Source: Microsoft)
This means you want to avoid things that slow people down or force them to jump back through incomprehension. Typographical speed bumps include:
- Foreign words
- Italic text
- All-caps text
- Long quotations
- Excessive punctuation (one reason why we now write ‘eg’ not ‘e.g.’ etc)
- Unnecessary capitalisation, which is very common in the tech industry
- Acronyms and abbreviations
A month ago, Time announced its “Person of the Year” for 2018: killed and imprisoned journalists, dubbed “guardians of the truth.” Those pictured on its covers included Jamal Khashoggi, of the Washington Post; five staff members from the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, USA; the Philippines’ Maria Ressa, of Rappler; and the wives of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, both from Myanmar.
At Magazine Training international (MTI), we are deeply concerned about the growing violence—lethal, physical, and verbal—against journalists and media workers worldwide. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that 1,444 professionals were killed between 1992 and 2019. While 2018 is not the deadliest year on record (that was 2007, with 90 deaths), last year’s 60 fatalities mark the third year in a row of the latest resurgence of violence.
I appreciated Time’s choice to highlight this issue. In doing so, Time honored a Muslim, two Buddhists, a Jew, a Unitarian, a Roman Catholic, a self-described cynic, and two others whose faith or background were not mentioned in their obituaries.
I do not know how typical this religious breakdown is for journalists worldwide, or how many Christians—regardless of affiliation—are listed among CPJ’s 1,444 victims. I do know this: Christians should be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13–15).
We who claim to follow the One who said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6) should lead and support the search for truth and its proclamation. Kudos to Time for its timely reminder of the value of investigative journalism. May God graciously help all who do this work with courage.
At MTI, we know Christians in media face danger on two fronts. They face danger for reporting the truth, and they face danger for their faith in Christ. Last year, Newsweek and Foreign Policy carried stories on Christian persecution and genocide. Earlier this week, Christian Today reported that the persecution of Christians is expected to rise in 2019. Open Doors International’s figures for 2018 state “3,066 Christians were killed; 1,252 were abducted; 1,020 were raped or sexually harassed; and 793 churches were attacked.” These are heartbreaking statistics.
Christian writers, designers, and publishers in double jeopardy need our support. With a new year and new projects ahead, it can be easy to forget others face danger when we do not. Yet we are members of one Body, called to care for each other (1 Corinthians 12:12–26).
We can pray. We can use our various platforms to help those who are suffering tell their stories. We can work for justice and peace. We can provide direct aid and encouragement when possible, and when this is not possible, look for other ways to support our brothers and sisters in difficult situations.
If you read Nuru’s story, you already know that MTI is serving publishers where serving Christ is dangerous. If you met Daphrose at our recent conference in Kenya, you know the passion publishers bring to the work of proclaiming salvation, healing, and restoration through Christ.
MTI is aware of the dangers of serving Christ in publishing in many places. In addition to conferences, workshops, courses, and manuals, MTI offers such resources as tips for staying safe when covering disaster or unrest, tips for protecting your mental health when reporting on trauma, encouragement, and much, much more.
Kim Pettit is an experienced writer and editor and is former executive director/CEO of the Christian Trade Association International.
–Kim Pettit, Chair of the MTI Board of Directors