Sunday, November 18, 2007

The WEA Makes a Mistake

Why, why, why would you kill off WE Magazine?

The last issue came in the mail this week. It opens with a note from president Mary Lundquist on the moves that the WEA is making in the realm of electronic communication, which is a good thing. WEA VP Mike Ragan has started a blog, and Ms. Lundquist has been actively sending out her new e-chalk newsletter. Well and good.

But what about the members that you’re missing by moving to an electronic model? You could count on WE reaching the vast (I’m willing to put 95%+) majority of the membership. You could use it to push the official position on any variety of topics. Every house needs an organ, and WE has been ably filling that role for decades.

This seems pennywise and pound foolish. From an Eastern Washington perspective, too, we’ve still got wide swaths where internet access isn’t available. Beyond that, though, to get to the WEA content online you have to be proactive and go out looking for it—even the email list has to be signed up for—where WE showed up in your mailbox. WE could be put out in the staff lounge and discussed at lunch—I can’t do that with a blog.

Plus, the magazine was a member benefit. It might not have been much of one, but at least the cynics out there could say that they got WE Magazine as part of their dues. What tangible benefit do we have to offer them now?

I’m one who’s criticized the WEA for not being more active in the electronic realm (see here for an example), but the heart of what I was looking for was for them to expand their communications into different media. Here they’ve grafted on a sapling while cutting off the healthiest branch on the tree, and while that might make long-term sense at the moment it’s incomprehensible. I applaud the forward thinking, but why can't the internet outreach work on a parallel path with the old media?

This is an oops.

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