Local Branches Shouldn’t Be Required to Publish Newsletters

There have been ongoing discussions for many years about how local branches can best manage communications with their populace in light of the changing media landscape.

Decades ago, the Society established a policy that each local barony and province should publish a newsletter to get information out to the membership and the public, but given the increasing importance of websites and social media, a growing number of branches find that those newsletters no longer play a meaningful role in their communications portfolio.

Therefore, I’ve written to the Society Chronicler asking them to drop this requirement, and allow local branches more latitude to choose which forms of media will help them achieve their goals of communicating with the populace.

If you agree with this suggestion, I encourage you to send an email to the Society Chronicler, with a copy to the Board, and politely encourage them to reconsider this policy. (As with all dealings with Society leadership, remember to include your modern name, as well as your membership number if you happen to be a paid member.)

From: Mathghamhain Ua Ruadháin
To: Society Chronicler
Date: 28 March 2024


I am writing to ask you to consider relaxing the requirement for every barony and province to have a chronicler and publish a newsletter. 

I fully agree with the goals laid out in paragraph III.A. of the Chronicler Policy, which states that local branches should inform the community, further the educational purposes of the Society, and facilitate communication between members of the group.

However, in light of the changing media landscape, there are now multiple ways of accomplishing those objectives, including websites and social media channels, and my sense is that a growing number of branches find that a traditional newsletter no longer seems like an efficient way of getting information out to the membership and the public.

I say this despite the fact that my own local group’s newsletter is lovely, and I greatly appreciate the work of our chronicler; I fully expect that even if this requirement was dropped, our local group would continue to produce a newsletter. But not every group is as large as ours, or as well-supplied with folks with desktop-publishing experience — some local groups are struggling to find enough volunteers to fill all of the officer positions they need, especially given the membership contraction in the wake of Covid.

A group that maintains an active, frequently-updated website filled with event listings and reports on local activities, as well as a bustling social media presence across multiple platforms, does not gain any real value by also being forced to recruit one more volunteer to periodically copy-and-paste a subset of that content into a PDF file in order to fulfill a pro-forma checklist requirement.

When branches have the energy and volunteers to produce great newsletters, they can be wonderful, and I have no desire to curtail that effort — but when they don’t, it’s dispiriting to force them to produce a placeholder that nobody actually wants.

We don’t force every barony to have a renaissance dance program, or a thriving community of scribes and illuminators, or monthly archery practices, even though each of those things is valuable.

For these reasons, I am asking you to release baronies and provinces from the requirement to publish newsletters, so long as they find other ways of successfully meeting the goals of information, education, and communication that serve the populace and the Society.

Thank you for your consideration,

— Mathghamhain Ua Ruadháin

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