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Tell us your opinion of CommonWealth's print magazine
THIS ISSUE CAME TOGETHER much like past issues. We came up with our story ideas and reported them out. We recruited freelancers to research and write other stories. And we assigned photographers to take pictures. We spent a lot of time putting the magazine together while continuing to write stories for the CommonWealth website, and producing the digital Daily Download, Back Story, and Upload.
I liked how the print magazine turned out. The story on Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia is a great read. The Conversation with three of the MBTA’s younger leaders offers a glimpse inside an organization trying to shake off its stodgy image. Our report on how the benefits of the film tax credit are not distributed equally around the state —and instead flow primarily to Greater Boston—should prompt an interesting public policy debate. And our feature on stormwater pollution, and the fees municipalities are starting to impose to deal with it, offers hints at how cities and towns may deal with climate change and other environmental concerns in the future.
Still, the print magazine is a very heavy lift for a small staff, and sometimes it feels like we’re reaching a breaking point. The heavy workload has prompted an internal conversation here about whether we should keep publishing the quarterly print magazine or whether we should focus our time and resources on the magazine website and its popular digital products.
Everyone has an opinion. Some feel the print magazine is a part of CommonWealth’s brand, and we should keep publishing it to be true to our mission. Some say the print magazine is what is distinctive about CommonWealth, and to abandon it would be the equivalent of giving up our soul. Some just like reading a print magazine, and like checking out the cover.
In trying to decide whether to continue publishing the print magazine, two issues are paramount. The first is the opportunity cost of producing the print magazine and what could be done with the staff time devoted to the print publication if it were redeployed online. Basically, we would have more time to do what we do best—report and analyze the news. The second is that the significant financial resources we invest in preparing, printing, and mailing out the magazine would be saved and could be invested in journalists and the website.Also, we could take the most distinctive and important elements of the print magazine and continue publishing them online. It may make sense to keep up the quarterly schedule, publishing a slimmed-down online magazine every three months featuring a cover, our distinctive in-depth articles, and the Conversation.
These are some of the issues we’re struggling with. But we could use your help in making this decision. We know who receives a copy of the print magazine, but we don’t know how many actually read it anymore. Which is why I’m inviting you to send your email address to me (at firstname.lastname@example.org) so we can include you in an online survey asking your thoughts. Feel free to share your thoughts directly with me if you want. Please help us figure out the right course to take.