The March 20 edition of the Wesleyan Christian Advocate will be the 172-year-old newspaper’s final issue “in its current format,” according to a story in the Advocate‘s March 6 edition.
The newspaper of the North and South Georgia Conferences, battered in recent years by rising costs and declining revenues, then will go through a “two-stage metamorphosis.” That process eventually will result in two new publications — one for North Georgia, one for South Georgia — produced jointly by their respective Conference information offices and the Texas-based UM Reporter.
From the March 6 Advocate:
[In stage one of the transition, issues of the paper to be published] in April and May…will become “An edition of the UM Reporter.” [The Reporter is a publication of the non-profit company, UMR Communications.]
There will be a front section of eight or twelve pages that will contain our local news, our current columnists, our crossword puzzles, and most of the regular features you have been reading for years.
Those papers will then have a second section created by the Reporter that will contain the news about the United Methodist Church worldwide.
Then beginning with the first issue in June, there will be a separate paper for North and South Georgia which will be put out by the communication offices of each Conference. However, what those papers will be called has not yet been determined.
Those papers will have a front section with news relevant to each Conference, and then the same second section which will come from the Reporter.
Unable to close the widening gap between revenues and costs, the Board of the Advocate voted in mid-January to cease publication. The paper generates about $300,000 annually, but yearly expenses exceed $400,000, according to information published in the paper’s Feb. 6 edition.
UMR Communications began as a regional Texas Methodist newspaper in the 1840s. Today it is a non-profit corporation that publishes newspapers for 16 UM conferences, including Iowa, Missouri, Tennessee, and Western Pennsylvania.
UMR also operates Lumicon, a company that produces digital worship resources for churches.
According to the UMR Communications web site, the company “is not funded directly by the United Methodist Church…. It is financially independent, and derives its income from fees paid by clients for its services, along with grants and bequests from donors.”
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