Monday, October 09, 2006

Mormon women's magazine moves online

Mormon women's magazine moves online
Exponent II : High costs of publication and declining circulation force the end of a printed version
By Peggy Fletcher Stack
The Salt Lake Tribune

Exponent II magazine
Exponent II, a quarterly publication by, for and about Mormon women, will issue its last printed version in September. After that, it will be an online magazine only.
   Like so many other niche publications, Exponent has had trouble making ends meet. Circulation has declined about a thousand in the past few years from a high of 5,000, and printing costs have steadily risen. But that's not the only reason for the move to a paperless publication, said Nancy Dredge, who is in her second term as Exponent editor.
   "People who read our paper and are interested in Mormon women's issues already are
Exponent II magazine
discussing these issues online," Dredge said in a phone interview from her home in the Boston area. "We are trying to introduce ourselves to the new generation on the Internet, but still be what we already are."
   For many women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Exponent II has been a bridge between their faith and their feminism.
   It began in the 1970s when a group of Mormon women in Boston were asked to put together a women's issue for Dialogue, another independent LDS journal. They pored over historical archives, exploring the lives and commitment of their foremothers in the Mormon movement. In the process they discovered the Woman's Exponent, a women's newspaper published in Utah from 1872 to 1914.
   This group decided to honor that heritage with its own publishing endeavor, and in the summer of 1974, Exponent II was born. Though based in Boston, it immediately attracted attention from Mormon women across the country. Claudia Bushman, a historian and mother, was its first editor, while many local women helped put it out.
   "We pasted up the paper in my dining room with women, sometimes with their babies beside them on the floor, working at all hours of the day and night,"


writes Carol Hilton Sheldon in a brief history posted on the magazine's Web site, "We were all mothers. We were all Mormons. Yet we were all very different from each other. Only two of us were employed full time, teaching at different colleges. Some of us had college educations, some of us did not. However, we all shared in the process of having our consciousnesses raised about women's issues and about ourselves."
   Within a year, Dredge became editor and worked in the position until 1981. She has remained involved through the decades and took Exponent's helm again in 2000. She hopes there are enough loyal subscribers and new friends willing to pay $10 per year for an online magazine.
   The last print issue features an offbeat conversion story, discussions of infertility and adoption, a look at the joy of dance, writing as therapy and Mormon culture through food.
   "I think of Exponent II as essentially a literary magazine, with personal essays that are more thoughtful and better crafted than a blog comment that has been dashed off," Dredge said. "The online version will have the format of a paper. It can be downloaded and printed, which will make it a more permanent thing."

No comments: