December 20, 2005

Our Virtual Presence

1550 page6 cap can?t believe that Christmas is almost here. Or at least that?s what the cover date on this Review suggests. Is it just me, or does it seem that the months and years go by faster? Maybe that?s because, as we sharpen our focus on our work, or on the rigors of raising a family, we become more oblivious to the changing seasons around us. Even if we take the usual vacation, the stress of the workplace quickly increases the pace of life.

Recently a friend jokingly said to me, ?I haven?t seen your byline in print for a while. What?s happening?? I explained to him that there?s a good reason for my perceived hiatus from the pages of the Adventist Review.

My friend was right. After checking my files, I discovered that my last editorial appeared in the February 24 issue of the Review. And here?s why: For the past several months I?ve been working on a project that I have to share with you.

The Review?s New Face
As this Christmas rolls around, our online readers are enjoying a newly redesigned Web site ( Launched at the General Conference session in July, the Web site now has a bold new look and many exclusive features. In addition to articles from our print journal, you?ll also find our Web-only columnists, Pastor Karl Haffner of the Walla Walla College church in College Place, Washington, and Gary Swanson, associate director of the General Conference Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Department. These two men share their perspectives on living out faith in today?s contemporary culture.

1550 page6Along with our columnists, we also offer a monthly special feature--a commissioned article, reprint, book excerpt, and so on. These blockbuster features focus on high-interest topics that touch on current life issues.

One of my favorite features is our new World News section, which gives a religious slant on secular news stories. You?ll learn about new legislation affecting people of faith and what issues many Christian churches are grappling with.

If you don?t enjoy the luxury of living near a Seventh-day Adventist radio or television station, then you?ll like the new section AR on the Air. This section is a listening room featuring CD-quality radio right from your own computer. With a few clicks of the mouse, you?ll hear music and teaching programs from Adventist media ministries throughout the Western Hemisphere. If you like sacred classical, contemporary, inspirational, traditional hymns, lite urban gospel, or Spanish and Portuguese music, there?s something for you in AR on the Air.

Amazing Response
As a result of our new look and added features, our traffic has increased dramatically. Before the General Conference session, monthly online visitors totaled approximately 43,000. In July, the month of the GC session, that climbed to 55,900. During the session we uploaded daily reports and multimedia features. However, the July numbers were surpassed in October when the audience reached 56,300. These visitors logged on to the Web site more than 175,000 times in October, nearly the same number as in July.

In October the Review staff introduced a major change in the online operations. Instead of just offering a few articles, virtually all articles from the magazine are available online (in addition to PDF archives). Now subscribers can read nearly all features with just a few clicks of the mouse.

While introducing this change, the Adventist Review Publishing Board instituted an annual $12.95 fee for non-subscribers in North America. Subscribers to the print edition and international visitors still have free access. By paying the annual charge, visitors gain access to the additional magazine content and the PDF archives.

In a letter to online readers, editor William G. Johnsson explained, ?The decision taken by the board was driven by financial considerations. The Adventist Review is a subscriber-based magazine: it depends on the revenue generated by subscriptions to continue to operate. Some evidence indicated that because the online Review was ?free,? we were losing subscribers and thereby putting the operation of the Adventist Review at risk.?

This action is similar to actions taken by many magazines and newspapers. The Review has provided the online service FREE for six years. And all visitors who come to the Web site will still find a considerable amount of free content.