Perhaps you attend a liturgical church. Or, maybe you go to a church that pays no attention to the calendar except at Christmas and Easter. Whatever the case may be, if you are in publishing, you are aware of the times.
If you have a monthly or quarterly magazine, editorial planning and production schedules require you to work ahead far ahead of schedule. Any thoughts you had of Lent were at least two or three issues or months ago. Conversely, if you have a daily or weekly newspaper, ezine, or blog, deadlines loom large. Ash Wednesday already took place. Lent isn’t exactly breaking news, nor a headline that “bleeds and leads.”
So, why consider Lent now? These 40 days of self-examination and preparation for Easter can be especially valuable for us in Christian media. They can be a way to get out of the artificial timelines and task lists in our heads and ground ourselves in reality, in the common life we share as Christians with our brothers and sisters around the globe.
Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Lent reminds us that our lives are short; the publication cycle is even shorter. God, have mercy on us.
Lent calls us to repentance. What sins are you guilty of in your professional life? As an editor, I sometimes have unrealistic expectations of authors, of designers, of readers, and of myself. I procrastinate. I miss the mark. I might not even notice the typo until after it’s been published. We all sin. Too often, our errors, imperfection, and biases are on public display. God, have mercy on us.
Lent calls us to the practice of virtue. Excellence. Best practices. But in both Christian and secular circles, I’ve also seen plagiarism, misattributions, misrepresentation, and much more. How am I striving to correct and prevent such problems? What training have I sought for myself and my staff? How do I implement the practice of virtue when it means I have to pay a licensing fee? What about the times when we have to choose between quality and expediency? God, have mercy on us.
Lent is intended as spiritual formation. Christian media communication is also intended as spiritual formation. We publish not merely to inform, but to educate and edify others in the faith. Is what we publish meat, or milk? Prophecy, or pablum? Is it the mot justeour readers need, or merely what is in vogue? Our subscription and sales figures may tell us, long after the fact. In the meantime, God, have mercy on us.
Finally, Lent is an exercise that precedes Easter, the celebration of Christ’s resurrection and our hope to new life. In magazine publishing, each issue and article requires discipline and is a prelude and sign of hope. This Lenten season, God, help us to remember this, and help each of our publications fulfill their potential for you.
By Kim Pettit, Magazine Training International board chair