1. After you read a CC article, do you:
a) Email the writer about a similar CBC story
b) Return the borrowed copy to your mom
c) Clip it out to save in a manila folder
d) Post a link on Facebook
2. If you email me, are you more likely to:
a) Recommend a new book we should review
b) Compliment a recent article, then admit you don’t subscribe
c) Ask for an article published more than 5 years ago
d) Say “Keep up the good work!”
3. When we ask for donations to sustain our redemptive journalism, do you:
a) Donate the same amount you give to Canadian Geographic
b) Make a mental note to do it later
c) Donate in appreciation of CC’s remarkable 76 years of publication
d) Set up a monthly donation
How did you respond?
If you answered mostly (a) you might be a News Junkie, (b) a Freeloader, (c) a History Buff or (d) a Bolsterer.
What do these categories mean? Well, when you’ve worked somewhere as long as I have – almost 15 years – certain patterns start to emerge. Even in the news industry, which is changing so quickly that a day is the new decade, I’ve gained a little perspective. This is helpful when picking which conferences to attend, which emails to ignore and which articles to overhaul. Time has also given me some insight into you, our Christian Courier (CC) readers. Many of you communicate with me regularly enough to feel like friends. If we ever meet in a church fellowship hall someday, conversation will be easy.
We get a fair amount of mail – email, website comments, physical letters – from all over Canada (and the U.S.). So I decided, just for fun, to break these types of messages down into seven categories. I’m sure you’ll recognize yourself somewhere on this list!
Redeemer University’s first President was Rev. De Bolster. What a great name for a pastor! The Dutch word needs no translation – to bolster someone is to buoy up their spirits, fortify, hearten, foster. Many CC readers have sent me heartfelt words of encouragement over the years at just the right time. In fact, it usually feels like God’s timing. If you are a Bolsterer, sincere thanks.
It’s equally lovely to hear from those of you who have faithfully subscribed to Christian Courier for a long time. A REALLY long time! Superfans are the loyal readers who received CC as a gift subscription at your wedding in 1968 and haven’t missed a year since. You probably know the names of not only Heidi VanderSlikke’s husband and kids but her grandkids. And you might ask, in your post-script, if I’m related to the Hamilton Bicks, or to the Margaret Reitsma who graduated from Trinity in ’71 whose roommate lived in Japan. (The answer is yes.)
Some people can’t read anything without spotting errors. It’s a prerequisite for Editors, of course, but there are times when I wish our readers got on board that particular train a . . . little less. I’m not talking about typos – those are egregious (though mistakes happen). A Judge might email me wondering if that subhead really did the best job summarising the following paragraph, or why a writer’s bio didn’t mention a prior publication more relevant to the topic.
To the Judges, let me just say that applications to the unpaid position of copyeditor are always welcome!
The History Buff
In 2019, I had the pleasure of bringing a complete set of Christian Courier archives to The King’s University in Edmonton, where they were added to the Gerry Segger Heritage Fund. In Hamilton, librarians at Redeemer University have nearly finished a multi-year project to digitize their CC archives. And a full paper set also exists in Grand Rapids, at Calvin University.
That’s more or less what I tell the History Buffs, who ask me to find something like this: “An article from 1982 about Paul’s theology of circumcision. It was either in CC or The Banner.” Sometimes the requests are more specific: “That editorial by Bert Witvoet debating whether peppermints were ‘idolatrous white attention stimulants’ OR ‘covenantal pebbles dating back to the Israelites who tithed mint thus justifying its inclusion in our liturgies today.’” (Actually, that hilarious editorial can be found online at reformedworship.org. It was in CC on December 13, 1991. You’re welcome.)
The News Junkie
I read pretty widely – in print, online, across the political spectrum. But the News Junkie reads more, and you share every story tip you think might be something CC should follow up on (usually in several separate emails). Is it worth digging into a thrift store that donates all its proceeds to pets with cancer? Or a church celebrating 63 years without a single council argument about upgrading its gravel parking lot to asphalt?
I’m just kidding.
There’s no way any council ever agreed on parking lot upgrades.
The actual ideas that News Junkies send are, in general, extremely helpful for keeping our staff informed, and a super high percentage of them do end up in print. If you’re a News Junkie, keep the tips coming!
This is perhaps the most frustrating kind of CC reader, and I meet you all the time. It’s surprising, but Freeloaders often bring up the elephant in the room themselves! A typical conversation goes like this: “You must be Angela! I can tell from your pictures. Great job with Christian Courier. That article by Meghan was really good, though I also liked the one by Bob. Of course, I read it at my mom’s/neighbours’/second cousin’s house. I don’t get the paper myself. No time to read.”
Does the Freeloader support CC by donating instead of subscribing? One can only hope (and ask. Once a year. During our annual campaign. In fact, it’s starting this month! This is your moment, Freeloaders).
The Online Reader
This is, both happily and somewhat perilously, a growing demographic of CC readers. We think our content is top-notch and so we’re happy to extend its reach through the articles on our beautiful website. But sustainability is always a balancing act, because we offer that content for free. If you’re an Online Reader who comments sporadically, I always wonder if you have a sense of CC as a whole. Either way, welcome to the community! Look around. Stay awhile. Join in this wide-ranging conversation that spans time, cyberspace and huge swaths of Canada.
Before you know it, you’ll move from Freeloader to Superfan or even Bolsterer.
This fall, as part of our annual donation campaign, we’ve created a name to encompass all these categories of CC reader – the Theo. It’s a nod to Vincent van Gogh’s brother for financially supporting Vincent’s artistic endeavours, which were not successful during his lifetime. What beauty the world would have lost, without Theo van Gogh!
Christian Courier Theos might read the paper online or in print; send in news tips or words of encouragement; have subscribed for 40 years or 40 minutes. If you have engaged with CC in any way, and appreciate our hope-filled, faith-based journalism, would you be our Theo and donate today?
You just read something for free. How can a small Canadian publication offer quality, award-winning content online with no paywall?
Because of the generosity of readers like you.
Just think about Vincent van Gogh, who only sold one painting in his lifetime. How did he keep going? Because of the support of his brother, Theo. And now over 900 exceptional Vincent van Gogh paintings are famous worldwide.
You can be our Theo.
As you read this, we’re hard at work on new content. Like Vincent, we’re trying to create something unique. Hope-filled, independent journalism feels just as urgent and just as unlikely as van Gogh’s bold brushstrokes. We need readers like you who believe in this work, and who provide us with the resources to do it. Enable us to pursue stories of renewal: