The Press Service International—Christian Today 'young writers conference' this month saw the afternoon session divided into two separate sessions and with a set of questions for each of the three 'focus groups'.
Each group had a facilitator, a senior observer and one or two scribes to record the sentiments being expressed but not necessarily verbatim.
Facilitators: Russell Modlin, Rebecca Moore, Sam Gillespie
Senior Observers: Gavin Lawrie, Aira Chilcott, Jeremy Dover
Scribes: Irenie How, Charis Jackson, Haydn Lea, Teagan Russell, Aira Chilcott
Raised in the focus groups and responses—some of these are perennial.
• Feedback on articles from the Christian Today site?
Christian Today is the publisher, it invites readers to its site, it does not then provide feedback to its 'young writer' contributors 'post' publishing.
• How long do the articles stay on the site?
The articles remain on site, sometimes an article gets lost and Christian Today, once advised, re-links it to the site. Christian Today had a major site uplift late in 2016 and many functioning operations on the old site were lost. This is a long process.
• Help us to know how to write. What's interesting to others.
Each young writer is given a list of tutors to aid them, they are an email away.
• The Adverts on Christian Today have gone.
Everyone is delighted those pesky spot adverts are gone. Well-Being Australia the parent ministry of Press Service International donates a monthly contribution to Christian Today for this purpose. The 'young writer' complaints were many!
• Statistics from Christian Today—would be motivating.
Statistics is one of the fixes yet to be made as spelt out above. It is frustrating to everyone. The former editor who is a consultant to Press Service International has been chasing this up …
• PSI site is a data base, Christian Today is the publisher.
The Press Service International site is a data base. Each young writer has their own web presence CV site. Its purpose is not for public readership, rather for each young writer to have their own resource.
• Editors welcome to give feedback.
Some editors provide feedback, others do not. In my view, young writers in reality, want a full and descriptive review from each and every reader—sheer nonsense of course.
• As we get bigger we need to know that we're not alone—fellowship.
The fellowship within the young writer program is through the Thursday young writer weekly memo, specifically the newsy bits. This is a 'distant ministry' where we don't see each other week-in and week-out. There are occasional State based lunches/dinners. Adelaide young writers had one in January, another in November and Victorian young writers are having a dinner in December. Over the years we've held these in Sydney, Brisbane, Hobart and Launceston.
• If we read an article—who do we send our own feedback to?
This is a delicate issue. In the past, I have received correspondence expressing concerns over a fellow young writer's articles. I'm more of a mind to allow divergent views. It is important encouragement and support our fellow young writers even if our theology is not exactly the same in every detail. Anyone is free to express an opinion.
• Can we post articles on the the Young Writers Facebook (Closed Group).
Young writer Charis Jackson has become the 'fresh' monitor of the young writer program—post your article to the Facebook page and see. Remember it is a closed group, only your fellow young writers will see it.
• How might we comment on the titles our fellow young writers chose!
As for titles and your comments on such titles—talk to one of the tutors or comment on it on the young writer Facebook site.
Don't get to see what the others write
1 PSI site has everyone's articles
2 Christian Today
3 Each Thursday evening the week's articles are emailed to you
Different types of feedback
1 Young writers receive article reviews
2 They can request a review from a tutor
3 Recommended—find a mature friend to review it
Conferences/Annual Awards – expect everyone to come
1 Airfare scholarships are provided
2 Accommodation—arranged in billets
3 Conference 'no cost'—protect this annual day
Reminder Due-Dates Emails
Each week has a co-ordinator (collator of articles)—they send the young writers reminders starting 8 days out from the due date—a bit like spoon-feeding. We have dramas with young writer late articles—there are five weeks in-between articles.
Here's the problem—too many leave it to the last moment, then they get a text—meet us for coffee ….
Thursday weekly young writer Email
Thursday evening list of the week's articles
Sunday E-Blast/Monthly Newsletter
This is three emails a week.
Any other email is specific correspondence such as:
• your specific article 'review' or
• some special notice such as One Day in Melbourne or the annual Young Writers conference.
• Each week has one person identifies your publishing day with a group email.
This is no different to any other mission—promoting their own big events.
All in all, the young writer program, established in 2009 provides young people a 'voice' in the market place of ideas through Christian Today. It's quite remarkable. A touch of the Lord.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html