Size Does Matter

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36 percent increase in sales must have been a great booster for our 159 year old local Newspaper New Straits Times (I must make known my immediate disappointment with the inability to access their website as I type this, anyway! “give chance lah” as we say here in Malaysia .. they may be over excited until they forget what to do with their surfer!). For more check out After 159 years… a small revolution

What happened? Well, they now have two sizes for the paper – the big traditional broadsheet format and the small compact format. Content-wise I think it’s the same – but then I haven’t compared the two yet. I just got my first copy of the small format today this morning at 7-Eleven. I like the feel and the design. There are a couple of opinion pieces I’d like to check out … sometimes they do have some good stuff there. And I’ve always checked out their Youth Quake pull-out once a while to “listen” to some voices of the youth. Overall, I think it’s scored points as far as increasing my “willingness” to buy the paper … for me Size does matter! (Googled an interesting link on Anchorage Daily News and how they communicated their change to the advertisers!” The FAQ segment is interesting)

For the “content”-purist … who might think form or format does not make a difference (at least in sales *grin* or even the way we read the news!), maybe there are lessons here for us to consider. Of course, time will only tell how long this “positive result” will sustain itself for the newspaper.

As one who believes in good solid content in all areas of life – whether it’s books, music, movies, etc., I also believe the “medium”-format-form and the way we help others get a “hand” or “handle” on the subject matter is equally important. Of course, there are times when one is just over-distracted with design and the creative-special-effects part of the process that we lose focus and get lost (and lose people in the process too!). Having said that, both the substance and form needs careful thought in what we want to achieve in our creative endeavors! And nowadays, I see them moving in parrallel in my thinking and working process.

Another aspect I’d like to touch on is the willingness of the paper to “change”. It’s not about selling out. It’s not about pride. I don’t think it’s compromise, or maybe giving up some elitist tradition that must be kept at all cost. It’s about reaching people. I do wonder how they will move on with two formats. But, for the “willingness” to “change” while keeping their unique style of “content” in tact must be applauded. Those are values I appreciate.

As a pastor and Christian leader, all this has much relevance in the way we “be” & “do” church in 21st century Malaysia. This delicate juggling mutiple balls of content, form, change, heritage, relevance, accesibility, challenge, etc. in the air of ministry today requires skill, determination, focus, and lots of practice!

So, fellow scholar-theologians out there please have us mortals in mind when you write. Dear writers, don’t get over distracted with looking good on paper … give us something to chew on as well as digest for good health and good taste too! Oh yeah … loads of up and rising songwriters and artist … spice up those lyrics and music and artwork with some excellent theologically sound and spiritually indepth material as well as an eye and ear towards your surroundings! And for pastors like me, let’s learn to grow with the changes that’s often blowing up in front of us before we can take a breath to rest, and learn to “morphe” while not losing sight of the “mystery” of his Grace! …. I can’t cover everyone here … but something inside me says, there’s something for everyone to access into … so, fill in the blanks for yourself _____________________

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