Good News in Digital Age

Putting the new wine into new wineskins: facts and trends in hi-tech & communications, publishing & mass media which help to fulfill the Great Commission

Monday, September 26, 2005

U.S. News & World Report to Shift Focus to the Web

U.S. News & World Report announced a major strategic shift away from print newsgathering to build its Web business. The move comes as major newsweeklies—like newspapers—face the continuing struggle for relevancy as a growing number of readers are comfortable with getting their news online and elsewhere.

“There’s no point as a news magazine to try to compete with that,” says U.S. News president Bill Holiber. “Rather than to try and chase everything down every week, we’re going to be more selective.” [See
related Q+A with Holiber.]

As part of the shift, the magazine is consolidating its print and online sales and marketing staffs into one, though it is unclear how many of the company’s 300-plus staffers will be affected. [See
related staff changes in this week's People on the Move column.]

Holiber says that there are no current plans to reduce frequency, and that the magazine added two additional issues this year. He says the investment in online will cost "several million" dollars initially.

U.S. News is also seeking to expand its collection of branded franchises—America’s Best Hospitals, Personal Finance and America’s Best Colleges—through content partnerships with hospitals and universities, including the October launch of America’s Best Health Plans, an online health center at and the single-topic America’s Best Leaders issue.

The magazine, at 2,000,000 paid circ the smallest of the Newsweek-Time-U.S. News newsweekly continuum, has, like Time and Newsweek, struggled in a post-election year to maintain 2004’s surge in ad pages. Through August, U.S. News (down 5.4 percent), Newsweek (down 13.2 percent) and Time (down 19.3 percent) have all lost ground in ad pages, according to
Publishers Information Bureau figures. U.S. News, though, is the only magazine of the three to show a gain in PIB revenue, up slightly at 3.5 percent.

“I think Time and Newsweek are battling it out, trying to be all things to all people; they want to be big, very, very big,” says Holiber. “U.S. News is not for everybody. There’s a large group of people who want their information in a fact-based way, without having to tell stories: ‘Give me the facts, I’ll decide.’”
Folio Magazine

Friday, September 09, 2005

Web Evangelism Search Keywords in Russian

After three very fruitful days of meetings on web evangelism projects with National Director CCC Ukraine Brian Birdsall and two RUnet web evangelism addicts :-) Tom Seely and Jerry Hertzler (aka: Tom&Jerry) from CCC office in Budapest, which we had this week, I finally got back to work.

I was trying to find the right words for adwords purchase in most popular search machines in RUnet. Analyzing the frequency of  search keywords use, I found some interesting relations. Here they are together with other search keywords stats. Hope this might help to better understand the ways people search the RUnet on the issues of potential interest to us (keeping in mind the Bridge strategy as well). Based on the stats analysis provided by Yandex.

Requests per moth with the keywords (next to the words are the numbers of requests per month):

God  56 153
they also search:
devil (demon, satan, …) 23 000
NEVER Jesus Christ (!)

Bible  24 054
they also search:
prayers (Lord’s Prayer) 30 000
Gospel 7 500

Paradise  28 000
they also search:
hell 16 600

Christ  14 415
they also search:
Jesus 9 000

Marriage  35 600
they also search:
family 86 700
destiny 65 000

Depression  14 000
they also search:
stress 9 800

Adultery  14 000

Sense of life  3 402;
they also search:
death 65 380
life 204 064
happiness 23 833
suicide 18 700
love 29 6550

Films  922 000
they also search:
movie 207 200
download 6 900 000

Music  678 000
they also search:
songs 559 000
clips 305 000


Monday, September 05, 2005

The Kitchen of Mega-Church

Modern Evangelism From a Business Prospective

The MAY 23, 2005 issue of Businessweek features the cover story “Evangelical America”.

This is it. For a long time I was expecting with growing concern in my heart that somebody – not necessarily the unbelievers – will start to analyze modern evangelicalism as a sort of business. This raises again at least two questions. First, to which extent the modern marketing technologies should be used (allowed to be used) by the Church. Second, what are our motives/goals of evangelization: get the numbers? get the geography? exercise the power of today’s best technologies, or… let the Spirit work reaching the souls? I know it sounds pretty much medieval and illiterate but my concern is, WWJD?

Excerpts from the editorial Earthly Empires:

"...Pastor Joel is one of a new generation of evangelical entrepreneurs transforming their branch of Protestantism into one of the fastest-growing and most influential religious groups in America. Their runaway success is modeled unabashedly on business. They borrow tools ranging from niche marketing to MBA hiring to lift their share of U.S. churchgoers. Like Osteen, many evangelical pastors focus intently on a huge potential market -- the millions of Americans who have drifted away from mainline Protestant denominations or simply never joined a church in the first place.

To reach these untapped masses, savvy leaders are creating Sunday Schools that look like Disney World (DIS ) and church cafés with the appeal of Starbucks (SBUX ). Although most hold strict religious views, they scrap staid hymns in favor of multimedia worship and tailor a panoply of services to meet all kinds of consumer needs, from divorce counseling to help for parents of autistic kids. Like Osteen, many offer an upbeat message intertwined with a religious one. To make newcomers feel at home, some do away with standard religious symbolism -- even basics like crosses and pews -- and design churches to look more like modern entertainment halls than traditional places of worship.


Branding whizzes that they are, the new church leaders are spreading their ideas through every available outlet. A line of "Biblezines" packages the New Testament in glossy magazines aimed at different market segments -- there's a hip-hop version and one aimed at teen girls. Christian music appeals to millions of youths, some of whom otherwise might never give church a second thought, serving up everything from alternative rock to punk and even "screamo" (they scream religious lyrics). California megachurch pastor Rick Warren's 2002 book, The Purpose-Driven Life, has become the fastest-selling nonfiction book of all time, with more than 23 million copies sold, in part through a novel "pyro marketing" strategy. Then there's the Left Behind phenomenon, a series of action-packed, apocalyptic page-turners about those left on earth after Christ's second coming, selling more than 60 million copies since 1995.

Evangelicals' eager embrace of corporate-style growth strategies is giving them a tremendous advantage in the battle for religious market share, says Roger Finke, a Pennsylvania State University sociology professor and co-author of a new book, The Churching of America, 1776-2005: Winners and Losers in Our Religious Economy.

With such low barriers to entry, the number of evangelical megachurches -- defined as those that attract at least 2,000 weekly worshippers -- has shot up to 880 from 50 in 1980, figures John N. Vaughan, founder of research outfit Church Growth Today in Bolivar, Mo. He calculates that a new megachurch emerges in the U.S. an average of every two days. Overall, white evangelicals make up more than a quarter of Americans today, experts estimate.

Historically, much of the U.S. political and business elite has been mainline Protestant. Today, President George W. Bush and more than a dozen members of Congress, including House Speaker Dennis Hastert, are evangelicals. More important, the Republican Right has been fueled by the swelling ranks of evangelicals, whose leaders tend to be conservative politically despite their progressive marketing methods. In the 1960s and '70s, prominent evangelicals like Billy Graham kept a careful separation of pulpit and politics -- even though he served as a spiritual adviser to President Richard M. Nixon. That began to change in the early 1980s, when Jerry Falwell formed the Moral Majority to express evangelicals' political views. Many of today's evangelicals hope to expand their clout even further. They're also gaining by taking their views into Corporate America.

Friday, September 02, 2005

The new standard for a Denominational website

UK's Assemblies of God site  gives an impressive difference compared to usual club-style denomination HQ web sites. Most important – it really combines the variety of information with attractiveness to both believers and unbelievers. Neat!