From the Editor’s Desk – June 2016

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Rasheeda Bhagat

Wanted: Missing subscribers …

As a new Rotary year knocks on our doors and clubs and districts as well as several RI leaders at top positions get ready to hand over leadership roles to their successors, Rotarians at various levels will be taking stock of how they discharged their responsibilities and measured up to the tasks they had undertaken last year. Just as four State Governments — those of Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala and Assam — and Pondicherry had to give their report card to the people and seek a fresh mandate. While two incumbent Governments of West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, incidentally both headed by women, triumphantly returned to power, Assam and Kerala voted for a change. So whether it is politicians, Rotarians, students or players in any other field in life, periodic assessment of one’s performance is not only mandatory but also desirable.

For us, the Editors of the Rotary regional magazines across the world, it was a biannual exercise which mandated our coming together at Evanston for the two-day Rotary World Magazine Press Editors’ Seminar, ably conducted and moderated by PRID John Blount. As mentioned on Pages 42–43 of this issue, the brainstorming sessions were very useful and gave us an opportunity to exchange notes and ideas. The meet of course began on a sombre note with RI President K R Ravindran, who could not be present for the opening session, reminding us through a video message that only the previous month the future of Rotary magazines had been put to a vote at the Council of Legislation meet in Chicago. The 500-plus delegates debated whether the requirement that all Rotarians should subscribe to a Rotary publication should be retained or trashed. On a vote 303–209, it was decided that it should be mandatory for all Rotarians to subscribe to at least one Rotary magazine. “This can and should be seen as a vote of confidence in the institution of Rotary publications, a tradition we’ve had since the days of Paul Harris. The Council concluded that even today, with so many ways to communicate and so many ways to learn, Rotary magazines are still essential to the experience of Rotary membership,” observed Ravindran. He added that if properly executed, a Rotary magazine was an “invaluable membership tool to inspire and connect Rotarians.” And when run in accordance with good business practices, it can be profitable too.

The missing subscribers

But he also reminded us that the COL vote was not unanimous, and three years hence, if the next COL votes against the obligation for every Rotarian to subscribe to a Rotary magazine, the “captive” subscription base the regional magazines now have can melt away. So a quality publication is important … one in which Rotarians can take pride and which encourages them to do more in their clubs and can inspire more people to join Rotary. We at Rotary News Trust are doing everything possible to bring out such a quality magazine month after month, and if your feedback is any indication, succeeding too. But a disturbing take away from the Evanston Editors’ meet, where a lot of data was shared with us, was that about 20,000 Indian Rotarians do not subscribe to any Rotary magazine. The Rotarian, which comes with a $24 subscription tag (against sub-$7 for Rotary News) has only 2,763 paid subscribers from India. Rotary News has a paid subscription base of 1.186 lakh, of which 2,000 copies go to Nepal. Rotary membership in India, according to the membership data published in April, is over 1.42 lakh. Do the math and you know that about 23,000 Indian Rotarians are not subscribing to any Rotary publication. Even if you account for Rotary couples or families living under one roof, and hence obliged to buy only one magazine, we are missing at least 20,000 subscribers. The consequences of non-subscription, as of now, are rather grievous, beginning with potential suspension of the offending clubs, denial of voting rights and so on.

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Rasheeda Bhagat

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