As you may know, for the past five years the magazine business has been in a slow but unmistakable decline. While there are a few exceptions, most publications share the same lament: Postage and printing costs continue to rise, while response rates to subscription offers decline. The fact is, people are no longer as interested in magazines, and more readers each year are leaving print publications for the convenience of the Internet. This is a tough thing to admit, especially when you happen to be a magazine editor who loves magazines. But there comes a point when a thing is so obvious that further denial is simply, well, denial. We at crisis have reached that point.
For that reason, and since the writing is so clearly on the wall, we are making a move while we still control our own financial and apostolic destiny. Here it is: September will mark the final print edition of crisis Magazine. Beginning on September 1, crisis will move entirely online, in an expanded format. It will have the same features, reviews, and columns (in addition to several new items that we never had room for in the magazine). Furthermore, everything will be free—no more subscription costs.
In September, in addition to your final print issue, you’ll also receive a special four-CD audio program that we’ve produced with the Morley Institute (our sister organization) to fulfill the remainder of your paid subscription. And if you have more than one year left on your subscription, we’ll be creating a special package for you. It’s the least we can do for your long years of friendship and support.
As a small non-profit organization, we live close to the wire, always scrambling to pay the bills. That’s just the nature of the business. However, that reality makes it very difficult to absorb sudden and unexpected expenses—for example, the 20 percent postage-rate hike we were handed this month, thanks to the U.S. Postal Service. Given that crisis lives by the mail—distributing the magazine, fundraising letters, subscription offers, etc.—that’s an immense blow.
And this is but one of many budget-busting obstacles we’ve run up against. In addition, most of our money comes in through fundraising, but we’re finding that fewer donors are interested in giving to a magazine. That’s just not where the future is.
On the other hand, supporters have been urging us for years to expand our Web presence so we could have a greater impact. We’ve wanted to, but just haven’t had the time or resources. Now we are making that jump. Unfortunately, we cannot afford to run both the print magazine and a Web site, and the print magazine alone simply cannot be sustained. So, on September 1, we’ll be launching a mega-site called www.TheCatholiclnsider.com. Crisis Magazine will have a section of the site, as will the Morley Institute. Each day, we’ll be rolling out new articles, columns, and investigative reports. We’ll also have weekly Web videos— everything from short pieces explaining or defending some Catholic belief to longer documentaries. These will be high-quality videos and well worth your attention.
The centerpiece of the new site will be a group blog—a kind of online diary where a dozen writers debate and discuss the issues of the day. We have assembled a very strong group, including several names you will recognize as a crisis reader.
In the meantime, we do hope you understand this decision. The important evangelical role that crisis plays must not be lost to the decline of the print industry. This magazine has been around for a quarter of a century. With this move, we not only expand our reach greatly, but we put ourselves in a good position to be around for another 25. That’s bad news for all the right people.