Emily W. Jensen: Sunstone Symposium: Mormon journals face economic struggles

Published: Monday, Aug. 17 2009 10:10 a.m. MDT

Five editors who spoke at Sunstone on Aug. 14 expounded on their goal to "make Mormon publishing into something that can continue to be viable and continue to contribute to Mormon culture."Stephen Carter, editor of Sunstone; Shelah Miner, features editor of Segullah; Angela Hallstrom, co-editor of Irreantum; Mike Hunter, academic review editor for new media at BYU Studies; and Kristine Haglund, editor for Dialogue, pooled their collective editing experience to discuss contemporary struggles and solutions for traditionally publishing Mormon magazines and journals.Carter began by outlining the three reasons Mormon publications are hitting some lean times:
  1. Consumers think information should be free.
  2. The recession is affecting Mormon publications.
  3. The blogs are taking away the Mormon magazine and journal audience since they are real-time conversations.
He advanced three ways traditional Mormon publications could once again flourish:
  1. Significantly focus on quality, "producing longer and more nuanced works."
  2. Unify the publication efforts.
  3. Focus more on the things that "unify and vitalize us as a Mormon community."
Hunter was appreciative that Carter invited BYU Studies to be a part of the discussion, explaining that it means he's "serious about breaking barriers." Hunter, as a librarian working in the Mormon Studies Library at BYU, made sure they subscribed to all the Mormon journals and counted "24 magazines and/or journals specifically LDS.""When I tell people that, they are amazed that there are so many journals that are specifically geared toward Latter-day Saints," Hunter said. He believed that one way the journals and magazines could work together was to use "our common interest in finding truth and understanding."Miner expounded on the "community" theme, explaining that Segullah serves as a creative community for Latter-day Saint women wanting to express themselves in a faithful tone. "We're very niche for a couple of reasons … but we're eager to expand."Hallstrom added that publishing Irreantum was hard, but ultimately worth it."Writing is hard, telling stories truthfully is hard, putting up stories out there for other people to learn from is hard, but in the end I have to believe it's worth it," Hallstrom said. "And that's why I believe we all do what we do."Haglund advocated the importance of the Mormon journals and magazines: "The independent publishing sector can demonstrate the sincerity and truthfulness of the church's claims that the members think for themselves." She tried to think of "uniquely Mormon ways to navigate the publishing crisis" and realized that the 13th Article of Faith applied. "For a church that takes seeking after what is virtuous, lovely or of good report, or praiseworthy as a religious imperative … it ought matter to us whether our newspapers have the resources to do (quality) reporting of the truth, whether our book buying can sustain those who produce what is lovely and whether we are dedicating our means and talents to the dissemination of truth in all its forms."

E-mail: ejensen@desnews.com
Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS