The Singing News Website
A while back I got this email from a reader:
Noticed today that Salem unlocked the Singing News website temporarily. To quoth the homepage: “For a limited time, we’ve opened all areas of SingingNews.com to everyone–FREE! Be sure to check out the Links, Personal Appearances, News, and Charts during this limited preview.”
After perusing again, I’ll agree with the “limited” part. You’d think if Salem were going to open up the site as a way to boost subscriptions, they’d have improved the layout, content, or something. But as best as I’ve determined in a short 15 minute perusal, there’s no “wow” factor to make me drop a 20-spot so I “don’t miss a day of access to SingingNews.com.” Maybe I’ve got my hopes up too much this early on, I dunno.
Abominable as it is, the SN webpage is pretty obviously not the center of Salem’s attention these days. The magazine itself has noticeably improved over the past year, the writing pool has diversified and improved, and the new features have given a new jolt to the pacing of the monthly read. I imagine those improvements on the page took countless hours and weeks and months of work to pull off behind the scenes. Entrenched cultures don’t change at all easily. But I assume the website is just not enough of a priority to warrant a similar commitment right now from the SN’s corporate overlords.
The website probably does what it does well enough (keeps insiders and web savvy fans current between issues on day-to-day sg stuff) that a major redesign at this point wouldn’t make sense given Salem’s broader corporate ambitions (Salem has scads of holdings and is acquiring more all the time). Even the people like my correspondent above (or myself) who find the SN site poorly designed, unattractive, and maintained with infuriating half-heartedness still go back to it on a semi-regular basis. It’s that or the undrained swamp over at sogospelnews.com (though thank God for Chuck Peters and sgml). And there just aren’t that many readers out there waiting to flock to a new and improved SN site.
I asked Les Butler, Salem’s man on the ground at the SN, about the SN website, and here’s the somewhat boilerplate response I got from him:
We have great confidence in the Singing News brand. Paid subscription growth is up 7% since our acquisition and advertising remains stronger than we expected when we made the acquisition. Life is good!
The future for southern gospel music is very strong. We are focused on the opportunity to expand the market for southern gospel music on the internet. Our strategic plans are comprehensive and exciting.
Well alrighty then. Until the strategic comprehensiveness and visionary excitement unfurls its awesomeness in full splendor (and Danny Jones suggests at least some of that change is in the works for the new year, though he doesn’t specify where the changes will be focused), I guess we’re stuck with our daily dose of sickness, death, fake news and retirement. Thank ye, Ma’am, may I have another?