Surviving in an Unfriendly Culture
November 1994By Dale Vree
Bill Clinton promised to "grow the economy." Whether it's truly growing can be debated, but what is clear to us is that the decadence of our culture has been growing by leap and bounds of late -- indeed, decadence is getting itself redefined as normalcy.
Amazingly, the NEW OXFORD REVIEW has not been choked by all the cultural pollution, either that which is national in scope or that which is merely local (the NOR is headquartered in Berkeley, sometimes known as Berserkeley!). Indeed, as the moral squalor spreads, more and more people seem to be hungering for intelligent alternatives and meaningful antidotes. And so, perhaps it's not entirely a coincidence that the NOR's circulation has grown to (as of this writing) 14,870, up 68 percent over just two years ago.
But people haven't instinctively beat a path to our door; first they need to know we exist, and therefore we advertise, which is expensive. And so, much of the credit for our growth goes to our readers who make donations above and beyond the subscription price, which donations enable us to pay our bills and advertise. Those donations have yielded much good fruit. Because we are not a subsidized periodical, we are directly dependent on you, our readers, to keep this magazine healthy. Without that support, we would languish and perhaps even die.
Another aspect of our viability is the fact that we are "run on a shoestring," as Our Sunday Visitor noted recently. Surely you've noticed that we are not printed on glossy paper and that we do not carry full-color graphics or ads. What you will not have noticed is that none of our writers receives payment. And then there is our bare-bones staff. Consider that another Christian magazine with a circulation similar to ours, a Protestant one which we will not embarrass by naming, prints about the same number of pages per year as we do, but somehow requires a staff triple the size of ours to accomplish that. Now, that's bound to end in disaster (unless they have a sugar daddy who pays off the deficit every year), for the economics of publishing are now so punishing that they dictate that every year many magazines will fall by the wayside. Thus, last year there were 297 Catholic magazines of all types in the U.S. and Canada; this year there are 274. So 23 vanished in one year. It's a rather scary statistic. How many more will have expired a year from now?
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