Christian publication returns to print
One of the region's most recognizable faith-based publications has returned to print after a prolonged absence brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Copies of Newberg-based Christian News Northwest returned to print circulation last week after being suspended from April through June for a variety of reasons, publisher John Fortmeyer said.
"We were hit by a double-whammy," he said in an email interview. "One is that there were literally hundreds of cancellations of Christian events throughout our region suddenly, and so our potential ad revenue dropped precipitously. (We get a lot of our ad sales from events). But the even bigger challenge is that 99% of our normal 1,900 distribution points in Oregon and southwest Washington (churches, schools, colleges, seminaries, bookstores, businesses) were closed because of the pandemic. My network of about a dozen distributors convinced me that it would be a waste of thousands of dollars to print the paper because practically no one would have seen it."
As a result, the publication was limited to online distribution for three months. In times without a pandemic, more than 25,000 copies of the free monthly publication are distributed at nearly 2,000 locations throughout the Northwest.
"The hardest thing was the initial decision not to print," Fortmeyer said. "Once that happened, I assumed it would take about three months for things to start reopening, so I was content to wait it out, but I certainly wasn't happy about not printing. As I tell people, I have ink and newsprint in my veins."
Fortmeyer's decision to begin printing the publication again hinged on a number of factors.
"Enough places had started to reopen that I felt it was the right time to seek a return to "normalcy" (or the new normal)," he said. "Although we are starting out small, with our the first eight-page paper we've had since our debut year of 1994, I am hopeful that we can again build back our advertising base in the coming months to again run larger issues. Our normal before the pandemic was 16 to 20 pages. Back in the golden age of newspapering (before the 2008 recession), we used to run 32 to 36 pages."
Fortmeyer broke news of the return to printing the publication with a message to readers that appeared in the July issue:
"We've all heard the phrases: 'Unprecedented crisis,' 'challenging times,' 'difficult times.' However we describe it, between the coronavirus pandemic and then the terrible unrest our nation has experienced, it is clear that what was normal before, no longer is. And newspapers of all kinds have not been exempt from the changes. Every newspaper, including ours, has been critically affected by the economic downturn, particularly by severe loss of ad revenue due to countless event cancellations. …"
Fortmeyer explained in the message that donations to a "Support Christian News Northwest Newspaper" GoFundMe account helped "carry" the tabloid for the past three months, but only an increase in ad sales and additional donations will allow publication to continue. Still, he said, he has faith the business will move forward.
"Our trust is in the Lord," he wrote in his message to readers. "He has carried this venture through many challenges these two and a half decades, and we are asking him to do the same now. If you believe in CNNW's 26-year mission to inform and encourage the evangelical Christian community, your prayers and support for us are especially important at this time."
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