Budget cuts are threatening the continued operation of The Diocesan Times, the newspaper of the diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. “We’re in a very difficult situation,” said Steve Proctor, chair of the newspaper’s management board. “We want to be able to continue to help Anglicans in the different parts of the region to tell their stories, but it may be impossible to continue on beyond December with the resources that are available.” For the last 10 years, the diocesan council has contributed more than $30,000 toward the operation of the newspaper, which has a circulation of 13,000.
However, the management board was informed in June that the contribution would be cut by $20,000, the Diocesan Times said in its September issue. “We were advised the shortfall could be made up by selling more advertising or encouraging more readers to contribute to the paper by paying their voluntary subscription of $20,” said Mr. Proctor. A suggestion was also made to end the print edition and move to an online version of the newspaper. Mr. Proctor said that the newspaper’s advisory board was not convinced that this was a viable option since many of the newspaper’s readers come from rural areas where they either have no computer or have no access to high-speed Internet. “As a board member and rector of a parish, I’m concerned that the most accessible form of communication for many in the diocese is being threatened by the withdrawal of a significant part of its diocesan funding,” said Canon David Fletcher, of the Anglican parish of Lantz. “It’s all well and good to say that parishioners can just go online and find the content but that kind of statement presumes a high speed connection, access to a computer… and a kind of comfort level with technology that I just don’t see sitting in the pew every Sunday.” He added that “with communication such a high priority in the diocesan vision, and the mandate that every identifiable contributor is supposed to receive The Diocesan Times, it seems that the implications of lowering the allotment have not been fully considered.”
The board has asked the council to reconsider the cut, or to phase it over a three-year period to give the newspaper time to make the necessary adjustments. The council is scheduled to gather for its regular meeting on Oct. 17 to 18.
Published 10 times a year, the newspaper is available to all identifiable givers of every parish. However, only 20 per cent of subscribers make a financial donation to the newspaper.
“If everyone made a donation, there would be more than enough money to run the paper and we could actually make a contribution back toward lowering the allotment,” said Mr. Proctor. “Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened.”
The Diocesan Times readers are being asked to help to try and make up the deficit by sending their voluntary subscription fee or by donating online through its Canada Helps partner (and get an instant tax receipt) at www.tinyurl.com/diocesantimes