First-time editor? Congratulations. A church’s magazine and its website are hugely important aspects of its ministry. They can be the first thing that an enquirer sees. They knit the church and the wider community together. They keep people in touch with what the church is doing, even when they don’t attend. And they can add greatly to the Christian teaching that otherwise just comes in the church services.
So, editing a magazine or website is a great privilege – and can be a joy, as you elicit helpful and inspiring material from your fellow churchgoers and those who run various activities. But. . .
You don’t have to talk to an editor long before you start hearing about the frustrations. Late copy, disorganised copy, copy that’s too long, copy that’s too short — no copy at all! Blurry photos that are the wrong resolution, software glitches, layouts that don’t quite work – and all done against a tight deadline. And are the readers grateful? Mostly they are, but you tend to hear about the ones who have a gripe about something.
The role of the editor is to make choices. Editorial freedom is a valuable thing. It’s good to consult, but you have been chosen as editor, and so should be allowed the freedom to decide what goes in your magazine or on the website. If ‘they’ want it done differently, they can get somebody else to do it!
Of course, the fact that you’re reading this means that you’ve made one good choice. Every editor needs a little help (!) and, as well as the tons of great material you’ll find on this site, we plan to have a working forum in which editors can seek advice from each other. And we’ll chip in where we can.
Below is some basic information that might help first-time editors.
Think of your readership
If you know your parish well you are likely to know what sort of things they would like to read. Will the magazine reach young readers? Do any of the film reviews coincide with releases at the local cinema? Keep your readership in mind, while at the same time understanding that it won't always be possible to please everyone!
A 30 page booklet - while worthy of praise for the sheer amount of work involved - may prove too much for the average parish magazine reader. Be selective in your choice of articles. Save some for the next month!
Look to your calendar!
What time of year is it? What is festival is coming up in the church year? In our archives you will find articles that reflect on a particular season or religious holiday. Try and pick something that reflects the calendar. This will help your readers engage with the articles and, in turn, the church!