ALBUQUERQUE (BNM) – The Baptist New Mexican will transition to a larger monthly publication in March, 2021, due to funding changes and cost increases. Along with the change in publication frequency, churches and individuals will also see adjustments in subscription pricing. The changes will allow the paper to continue publication and online availability and may even bring back some color printed issues, which were totally removed in 2020 due to costs.
Until these changes, the 109-year-old Baptist New Mexican newspaper was one of only two remaining weekly state Baptist newspapers in Southern Baptist Circles. Other state Baptist news organizations either publish less frequently or have gone entirely online. The Baptist New Mexican staff began planning for the changes in mid 2020.
Since its beginning in 1912, the Baptist New Mexican newspaper has shifted its appearance and size, but has continually connected New Mexico Baptists across the state, told their stories, and informed them about the activities of their state and national denomination. During the convention’s leanest times, the newspaper continued to publish stories about God’s work in the state through Southern Baptists. Those trends all still continue.
The newspaper’s change in frequency and size will retain the same column-inches of news article space as found in three eight-page newspapers. Each monthly issue will retain only one of each type of opinion article, while the news article space per issue will triple to match previous space. Occasional 20 and 24-page issues are possible depending upon story availability. The transition means that readers will find the same quantity of news content each month that they formerly read over three eight-page issues. Readers whose churches use the back-page newsletter service, will actually see more news because newsletters will only blank out one newspaper page per month, not three or four.
The paper has already contacted back-page newsletter subscribers who used the service in each weekly issue. Their frequency will reduce. But, other service users who publish only monthly or quarterly will continue their normal frequency. The churches who have been publishing newsletters weekly will continue providing Baptist New Mexican subscriptions for their members, according to their pastors.
Subscription cost increases will bring individual subscriptions up to current pricing standards and will adjust church subscription rates closer to current costs of mailing. The rate increases also address the additional postage and printing cost for the larger newspaper issue size. Since the frequency will be reduced, churches will likely see an overall decrease in their Baptist New Mexican subscription bills, even with the per issue price increase. The decrease will be most obvious to churches with larger numbers of member homes subscribed.
Per-issue subscription prices before the change had long failed to cover just the postage for mailing a single issue. The remainder of the cost for producing, printing and mailing the paper were funded by the Cooperative Program. Unlike some other state Baptist papers, the Baptist New Mexican has always directly belonged to New Mexico Baptists and operated as part of its state convention ministries.
Lower Cooperative Program receipts over the last several years and decreasing funding for BCNM programs received from LifeWay Christian Resources and the North American Mission Board have prompted the BNM’s changes. The convention has sought to continue a broad array of services and programs, despite the revenue losses. Each BCNM ministry team is adjusting its operations to trim costs and continue using wisely the funds New Mexico Baptist churches allocate for denominational Gospel ministries.
The Baptist New Mexican team will continue to release news stories online at GoBNM.com and through social media channels several times per week. The team anticipates creating some content that is only published online and is considering new blog and podcast offerings, as well as additional online release outlets. Because of continued news quantity and online releases, the team’s work will not decrease due to the change in publication frequency.
The BNM’s subscription pricing has stayed the same for over 15 years. During that time postage costs for home delivery have increased dramatically, as have personnel, printing, and paper costs. Suppliers have generously contained price increases to help the paper along the way.
In 2015, the paper’s longtime printer in Albuquerque sold its presses. Since that time, the paper has had to change printers or printing plants four times. Currently, the paper is printed and mailed by the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper’s commercial printing division. In the last five years, printing costs have doubled and prices for newsprint have soared. Despite increases in industry costs, distributing the paper via the traditional dull gray newsprint paper stock is the most cost-effective way to offer it to churches.
The Baptist New Mexican team also provides logistical support to the convention’s Christian Life Committee, provides technical consultation assistance to churches, maintains the convention’s virtual meeting technology, online presence through websites and social media, assists other convention media teams with promotion of their services, events and activities and provides audiovisual and press support to convention events. The team consists of the director of media services, one full-time ministry/circulation assistant, one full-time staff writer and one part-time digital content assistant. Each team member performs multiple roles.
The team produces content that reaches between an average of 6,800 homes weekly via the printed newspaper. It also posts content that draws hundreds more people to online news and social media posts each week. The team estimates that it connects with about 11,000 people each month.
Subscribers will receive further information about rate changes and other matters via direct communication from the team.
Summary of Changes
Publication Frequency decreasing from weekly to monthly
Physical Newspaper Format same dimensions and paper stock
Number of Pages increasing to 16
News Quantity Per Month unchanged
Opinion Quantity Per Month decreasing
Subscription Price Per Issue increasing
Net Church Subscription Cost decreasing
Newsletter Service weekly service ceasing, shifting to monthly
monthly and quarterly service continuing