The Western Recorder, the second-oldest Baptist newspaper in America, will cease publication March 31.
Once a flagship paper among a large network of state Baptist publications, the newspaper has fallen victim to the same trends afflicting newspapers and denominational communications at the same time.
Todd Gray, executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, said the number of paid subscriptions no longer could support the cost of printing the Recorder. In 2019, the state convention assumed full control of the newspaper, which previously had been an autonomous agency affiliated with the state convention. Dwindling finances also were cited as a reason for that move.
TAB among 5 papers still in print
Prior to the turn of the 21st century, there were about 35 print newspapers serving state Baptist conventions affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Most of those were weekly publications.
Today only five of those remain as print publications that are mailed into subscribers’ homes. The Tennessee Baptist and Reflector, the Baptist New Mexican, the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger and the Pathway in Missouri publish biweekly print editions. And The Alabama Baptist now stands alone as the one state paper publishing a weekly newspaper that is mailed into homes.
The Alabama Baptist and the Texas Baptist Standard (which is now an online-only publication) and Missouri’s Word&Way (a monthly magazine with an online presence) — are the three remaining publications with autonomous governance.
Several state Baptist conventions produce monthly or quarterly magazines featuring ministry efforts in the state, and all states have some level of content provided digitally.