Friday, January 28, 2011

End of "BC Christian News"

Today, I picked up a copy of "BC Christian News" outside a public library. Its front page reads: "This is the last issue of BC Christian News." I was stumped. What happened? Since its inception in October 1982, the publication has been a major connecting point among the Christian community in BC. It publishes a newspaper each month. I remember seeing stacks of the newspaper each time I walk out the atrium of Regent-College, at some public libraries and also at churches I visit. It contains news about Christianity in the province as well as outside. There are helpful articles, commentaries on public life, updates on events, and many activities of interest to the Christian public. It allows many schools, agencies, and Christian organizations to publicize their programs, as well as job listings. Corporations as well as individuals can advertise their services. Alas, the 'all-good-things-must-come-to-an-end' bug has finally bitten the newspaper. There will be one less publication in a sprawling number of free tabloids in Vancouver. Sadly, it is also the most prominent Christian-based one.

Why is BCCN shutting down?

Does it reflect a growing lack of readership in BC? Or is it due to financial problems? Based on the editorial, it suggests that finance is the main factor.

A New Chapter
The Board and the management has said that it will be a new chapter. Firstly, the Christian Info Society would 'get out of the business of producing publications.' Secondly, it will consolidate into a ministry of 'fostering communication and community in the church.' Thirdly, it will relaunch the existing Options magazine as 'Converge.' (I thought they are getting out of publications business?) Fourthly, they will work on a Leadership initiative as well as more online content at

I think it is a good move to consolidate resources. Sad though I may be, it is a sign of changing times. BCCN is not the only print publisher to stop printing newspapers. Other major newspapers are also cutting back in their paper formats. Even books in print are being cannibalized by ebooks. The rise of the Kindle, iPad and other e-readers reveals a growing need for electronic materials. People are reading more online. With Canada having a high level of web-users, it makes sense to concentrate on online offerings, which are not only faster to publish, but cheaper to distribute.

Having said that, not everyone is comfortable to an online environment. For example, take a coffee discussion. With a printed newspaper in front, we can discuss with our friends with eyes on the same piece of paper. We can underline, draw, or write our comments on it. The same cannot be easily done if it is electronic. Who wants to wait for a computer to boot up? Can we use a crayon to smudge our laptop screens? Even the iPad screen does not stay still if we try to underline a sentence on the screen.

Bye bye BCCN. Welcome to a new world of online news. You can read the BCCN online here. [oops! It seems like paper version is not uploaded on the website yet. So much for speed.]


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