For everybody? Or nobody?


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I cringe when I hear the answer “everybody” in response to the question as to a magazine’s audience. Even worse was the response one novice editor gave: “Everybody in the whole world, saved and unsaved.”

Really? How do you produce a magazine that everyone in every country throughout the world will want to read, regardless of their attitude toward the Christian faith?

In fact, a magazine that is for everyone is actually for no one. Why? An editor producing a magazine for a specific audience will use the language best understood by that audience, as well as the examples and metaphors to which they can relate.

She will pick topics about which that audience cares and wants to read. For Christians, those topics may include daily devotions, how to pray more effectively, or how to share their faith with non-Christian relatives and friends. Non-Christians would not appreciate those topics, but might like to read stories that incorporate elements of the Christian faith or demonstrate the power of God in daily life.

Age makes a difference, too. I was asked to review a new children’s magazine produced by budding young theology students in Romania. I was surprised to see text-heavy theological articles sporting words like “incarnation” and “justification.” While I appreciated their enthusiasm and their desire to communicate the pure Gospel to these middle school children, I had to point out that they might want to use language and concepts easily understood by children. Less text and more illustrations would be more appealing to children than column after column of dense copy.

The editor who doesn’t want to go to the trouble to research the audience in order to determine how best to communicate with the reader is writing only for himself and his magazine will not last long.

On the other hand, the editor who really wishes to communicate will want to know his audience intimately and will make sure his writers understand how best to reach the readers. The magazine’s appearance will attract that specific audience with colors, fonts, illustrations, and page layouts designed to draw in the reader and to communicate the magazine’s message. Then a member of that specific audience who picks up the magazine will look it over and say, “This is my magazine, just for me.”

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