The accidental editor


I was appointed editor of the RECORD last month. 


I want RECORD not only to be the best publication in our Church, but the best-read publication.

Not half as surprised as I am!

You see, when my wife suggested we return to Australia for a year in 2011, she enticed me with the promise of a year off. Well, not entirely off. Really a year to write that book I’ve been talking about for a few years now. 

I suppose God has a sense of humour as, although I haven’t completed das buch thus far,1 I haven’t stopped writing ever since returning. And it looks like the writing will continue for a little while longer. Even if it’s not quite as I planned. 

So now that I’ve morphed from acting editor to editor, what does that mean for RECORD? It’s a reasonable question that deserves a candid response. So here goes . . . 

I have long thought the RECORD the best generalist magazine we have in the Adventist Church. I thought that when I worked at the General Conference. I thought it when Pablo edited it. And, yes, I continue to think it is. Why? Because it regularly achieves its ambition of connecting us together, providing a little inspiration, keeping our community generally informed and providing some spiritual insight. How? The same way all great things happen—talent and hard work—and, with or without me, the RECORD team has been blessed with both in spades. And something else—a joie de vivre infused with the love of God. But like all good things, we’re all painfully aware that we can improve. 

Specifically, I want RECORD to facilitate conversations, not just start them. I want RECORD to regularly print articles that you cannot find in any other church publication. Not the pedantic self-analysis that sometimes masquerades as intellectual dialogue, but seriously interesting pieces that expand my horizons—and yours. I want RECORD not only to be the best publication in our Church, but the best-read publication. 

And I want RECORD not only to nurture our Church but to grow it by providing the kinds of articles that explore our faith in a way that appeals to our reason as well as our heart—articles that are so engaging you want to share them with your friends, and your friends actually want to read them. 

Do I want anything else? Yes, lots of things2, but this list is a good place to start don’t you think?

And we’ve already begun. For example, if you haven’t visited the RECORD website recently, you really should. In the past three months we’ve gone from posting a single new story a day, to between four and eight new pieces—including links to fascinating news we find from sources all around the world. We’ve also made it much easier to share our articles on Facebook, we’ve eliminated cumbersome procedures that made it hard to comment on articles on the RECORD site, and we’re posting web exclusive material. Not surprisingly, in response, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of comments we are receiving, the number of “shares”, and the number of visits to the site—which have increased 56 per cent in the past five months. 

But technology can only take us so far—central to all we do is content. In this endeavour, your faith, encouragement and support are crucial. But there is something else—we need original thinkers, poetic writers, innovative perspectives, some serious scholarship and we need all the breaking news we can get. And I think you, or someone you know, may be able to provide that. Am I right? If so, as inspiration hits or news happens, send it over as we want to read it. 

Tell me something I don’t know. Or tell me something I do know, but in a way I’ve never heard before. And no matter what you write, try to do it with a little vim, vigour, passion and panache, all wrapped up in a decent level of brevity. This is, after all, a magazine, not a book. For that we’ll have to wait . . .

1.  I have written three chapters so far, so it’s not a total loss . . .

2.  A convertible Aston Martin would be particularly nice right about now.

James Standish is communication director for the South Pacific Division. Follow James on Facebook: James Standish, Wahroonga.