This newsletter, Tidings, which you are reading (probably on a screen of some size) right now, has been formatted to be a printed document. Among other things, that means that it must always have a number of pages which is divisible by four. It also means that we print 100% of every item that is included, because you can’t link to something from a printed page. Those constraints are leftovers from the mid-20th Century, and nearly all of us don’t absorb information that way anymore.
After considerable discussion, your Vestry has determined that we should transform Tidings into an on-line only format. That changeover will occur with the January, 2020 edition. We hope thereby to respond to a whole bevy of criticisms of the current format, many of which relate to a reader’s inability to quickly scan the newsletter for pertinent information. Most, but not all, entries will include a few lines about a particular topic followed by a “hot link,” which, when you click it, will take you to everything about that topic if, and only if, it is of interest to you. For example, if the diocese opens registration for summer camp at Bellwether Farm, Tidings would include a headline to that effect, followed by a “read more” link that would take you to schedules, age and ability requirements, fee schedules, photo galleries, and registration forms. Not everybody needs all of that, but if you truly are interested, it will be “one-stop shopping” for things that previously had to be searched out because they couldn’t be included in printed editions. We will also be able to be consistent about the order in which topics appear. Today, things go in the newsletter where there is space on the printed pages. With the change, Fellowship news can always be, say, the third topic after the Rector’s column and worship service information. Likewise, you will be able to find information about community events, say, just ahead of the calendar.
Some topics, such as the Rector’s monthly letter and the calendar, will be included in their entirety. It will probably take a few months of trial and error to figure out what should be included whole, how much information should be in the “teaser,” how many photos and graphics to include, and the like. We will need your feedback as we go, and if necessary, we can always revert to the way we’ve always done it.
This article will appear in Tidings for November and December. Then we’ll be off to a brave, new world. The consensus of the Vestry discussions is that we’ll like it. And, by the way, there will be savings of both direct costs (paper, postage, etc.) and staff time associated with the changeover. Our intent is that there will be savings of your time as well, as you will be able to find the information you need, and just the information you need, more quickly than you could before.