Subscribers to the Florida Baptist Witness are only days away from holding our new product in their hands. The new print edition is the result of months of prayerful planning, and only part of our new approach to how we are going to bring you news and information of interest to Florida Baptists going forward.
First and foremost, the changes we are making are designed to better connect our digital, social and print platforms—and the audiences that use them.
So, effective immediately, we plan to take the content we generate that has a specific date attached to when it happens and make it available to readers on our website as soon as the content is produced. And the content that we push to the web in our news/blogs section will continue to be available to everyone at no charge.
Going forward, there will be no reason to wait to publish these recent stories first in our print edition.
We know that our readers—especially younger readers—expect immediacy from their news sources. They have been shown by countless other media outlets that they do not have to wait for information, and if we are to capture millennials and those in Gen Z who have an allegiance to Florida Baptists then we must do a better job of meeting those expectations.
Of course, we think all readers will benefit by knowing about relevant information as soon as it is available.
Using technology to give you more timely access to news is not the only change being planned for our website.
We also are in the process of adding video news content as a complementary component of the most important stories in our print editions.
For instance, when we interview a Florida Baptist newsmaker we want to add a video segment and post it on our website. It, too, will be free on our website, and will serve the important purpose of helping those who do not subscribe to the Witness get a taste of what they are missing.
Our first effort at that is our video of my Q&A with Mac Brunson, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville.
We also have a better experience coming for those of you who enjoy us primarily in print. Starting with our January issue, we are converting to a monthly tabloid format that keeps everything you have told us you liked about the current setup while adding several more pages of additional features and expanded commentary and analysis with a Christian worldview.
For the past few years, most of our bi-monthly issues have averaged 16 pages. Starting with our next issue, we will begin giving you a monthly publication that allows you to dive deeper into the news and get more of it. The January issue is 32 pages, and we anticipate the average page count of each issue in 2017 to be 28 pages, or nearly twice the size of this year’s average print edition.
Some features, such as our eight exclusive columnists and Bible study writers, will remain available only to print subscribers.
Many of our print stories will be designed to help give you a better understanding of the news we broke throughout the month on our website, so there will be more of a complementary approach to the different formats.
Your all-new Florida Baptist Witness also has content dedicated to our Spanish-speaking and reading brothers and sisters in every issue.
And last, but certainly not least, our new Witness has a cleaner, more modern look to showcase the new content and expanded coverage.
These are important days in the life of the ministry of your Florida Baptist Witness. As always, I welcome your feedback on anything we are doing or that you would like to see us do. And I am forever grateful for your continued prayers and financial support that make this ministry possible.
Kevin Bumgarner is executive editor of the Florida Baptist Witness, the official news source of the Florida Baptist State Convention.