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May 29
2013

How to Help a Local Christian Newspaper

Posted by: Steve Marr

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I know that a publisher of a Christian newspaper is struggling.  This isn’t a new problem.  I have written before about the challenges facing print newspapers. When I talk to newspaper owners, they tell me about how the costs of organizing, printing and distributing the paper are high. They struggle with limited revenue for advertising.

 

I generally advise the following steps for newspapers in trouble:

1.  Engage local writers.

 Attend a local meeting of the American Christian Writers or other groups who help authors become published. Offer to allow then to write articles for free for your paper. Each writer has to start someplace. Many would be happy to offer content in return for a byline. Provide guidelines for these articles. Avoid opinion or complicated theological articles.

2.  Create local content.

Focus on local church and ministry events. Ask writers to tell what happened, who did it, and what the ministry outcome was. Remind them to use as many names in the story as possible. People like to see their names in print. Church members like to see their church and ministries mentioned.  Keep these articles short and factual.  Tell writers that this isn’t the place for opinion articles. A newspaper needs to focus on news.   Also develop a local events page.  This is where you allow groups to list upcoming events. It allows more people to see their church or friends in the news.

3.  Develop a newspaper website.

This allows you to post articles online to expand readership. You can add articles on your website that you don’t have room to use in the paper. This increases content. Offer free ad placement to businesses that pay for newspaper ads.  This increases the perceived value of the advertisements. If pastors want to post deeper articles, allow them to post on your website.

4.  Create ambassadors for the newspaper.

When possible, recruit people to pick up a stack of papers from you and deliver them to their local church. This may be the same person who submits articles.  Your goal is to build local support and develop people who are willing to support the newspaper and its ministry.

You want to create ambassadors who want to read and pass out the paper. They will demonstrate how readership is important to potential advertisers. Operating any newspaper is difficult. King Solomon wrote, “The lips of the wise spread knowledge, but the hearts of fools are not so.” (Proverbs 15:7, NASB) You need to be wise and spread the knowledge of the church and God’s kingdom through a local Christian newspaper.

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