On Tuesday morning, June 9th, I hit the send button…an email to thousands of people to let them know that the print version of Kindred magazine would no longer be available, in the wake of our decision to move all our content online. Though the decision was sound, informed through days and weeks of analysis, soul searching and radical self-reflection, it was not without some heaviness of heart.
What happened that afternoon, that night and for the rest of this week astonished me. Emails came pouring in, of support, love, enthusiasm and applause. This was something I did not expect. I expected the opposite (and completely understood why), and was prepared for the worst. I must say that I’m humbled by the words and generosity that have come my way, and have been surprised at how deeply these words moved me. Not so much because they were so positive, which was of course wonderful, but because suddenly I was part of a two way conversation.
For eight years I’ve been sitting in my office publishing material that I hoped was useful and meaningful, but for the most part it was a one-way conversation. And it was, in many ways, a bit lonely. It’s not that I didn’t hear from readers, I did, and of course I received and published many ‘letters to the editor’…But this is different. Suddenly, on the heels of this announcement, a stream of emails came that spoke heartfully, directly, to me. And I was just so proud to be a part of this growing, blossoming, amazing family. So deeply proud, honoured and touched.
Many of our family members are writers, visionaries, professionals and leaders in their own right and so many offered their work, their blogs, their ideas and information….all so that Kindred can become more diverse, more creative, more potent. So for everyone who emailed with ideas, offers, connections and collaborations…thank you.
And of course there were many sad emails as well, and of course some very angry emails. People have been genuinely disappointed–some even wrote ‘devastated’ and ‘outraged’–readers who have counted on the print version of Kindred to follow them into the fray of quiet moments lying on the couch breastfeeding, in the park while the kids play, in a stolen quiet moment on the couch. These places, they rightly protest, are not the place to prop up a laptop. Putting Kindred material online simply makes it less accessible, not more, they said.
And, they are right. This is why I called this blog post Sophie’s Choice. Because for me, literally, this choice has been extremely difficult, and not black and white.
While I had been working on the online project for nearly two years, it was always my intention to run the print alongside the web…I’ve always loved print, and being a tactile person (and a little old fashioned), loved to touch, hold, and feel something that I am reading. I used to grab the latest edition off of the printer and just smell it. Let’s face it, lingering over a magazine with gorgeous photos in a quiet moment to ourselves is nourishing. Plus, I resisted, and continue to resist, technology. It’s the bane of my parenting with my kids, and I resent it’s ‘creep’ into our lives. Arrrg, don’t even get me started on that roll…
And, how it is positively impacting society also cannot be ignored. Social networking is making so much possible, and while it is up to each of us to decide just how we play within it in a balanced manner, it’s capacity to interconnect, foster dialog and debate, and put the conversation in the hands of the ‘ordinary person’ rather than the media power-elite is undeniable.
Anyway, as I was saying, our intention was for Kindred magazine and Kindred online to run side by side. But, in the last three months, I had to take a radically honest look at what it would take from me personally to edit both projects…in a word: impossible. The reason behind closing the print version was not financial, but personal and professional. Both projects require extremely strong editorship, and the print was taking 2/3 of my time, leaving little time for the web.
I knew this decision would not be supported or popular with some of my readers (all of whom I value), but I had to hold to one very important and key point: Kindred’s role has always been to be the sane voice heard above the hypnotised, compromised media masses. And it’s voice is not useful to humanity unless heard by as many as possible, as broadly as possible, as efficiently and as responsively as possible, and….as freely as possible. This is about universal access. Remaining in print compromised–no crippled–this potential.
The increasing speed, scope and importance of the new information that was coming to me was making it necessary to respond much more quickly than a quarterly magazine could allow. Take for example the latest homebirth issue (possible becoming illegal in Australia), the swine flu dramas, etc…Holding everything aside in order for the print to be created, was defeating the purpose. Let alone the time both projects threatened to take from me with my family (the whole reason for doing this). I simply had to choose, and choose on the basis of what best served the whole.
So, beloved readers–happy celebrating ones, sad grieving ones, even the angry ones– I’m so happy I heard from all of you. And we’re working to try and meet as many needs a possible…from producing printer-friendly articles (all of them), to creating a site that is inviting and ‘grandmother / technophobe friendly’. Please let me hear from you through this blog post so that your voice can continue to shape and inform what Kindred becomes.
You can read more of Kelly’s writing at EQUUS, here.