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Changes at The Interfaith Observer (TIO)

By Paul Chaffee


Editing TIO for the past five years has been a cascade of blessings for me, particularly being involved with more than 350 students, writers, and activists of all ages bent on creating a peaceful, diverse, inclusive global interfaith culture. I’m excited as ever about the coming year – with a few changes, TIO should become a better publication.

Fall colors in northern California – Photo: TIO

Fall colors in northern California – Photo: TIO

  • TIO will be getting shorter. Adding up articles, including about 20 interfaith news clips aggregated into “Interfaith News Roundup,” results in approximately 50 stories each month. More than people have time to read! So, shorter should be better.                                                  
  •  TIO’s monthly themes will become “rolling themes.” This month “Religious Freedom” was scheduled to be the November 2015 theme … and so it is. But with four articles, not 12. Next month, December, we’ll have another four, and perhaps more in January – religious freedom is a vital concern for anyone committed to healthy interfaith pluralism.
  •  This month we have an additional mini-theme – stories about the Parliament of the World’s Religions held in Salt Lake City last month.
  • “Special Editions” has been a wonderful experiment where news from a particular constituency is added to the monthly TIO table-of-contents and sent to a special list. They are exceedingly labor-intensive, though, so after this month we’re going back to one edition for all readers.
  •  Instead of special editions, we’re starting a new program for “Supporting Partners.” These are interfaith projects which make the following agreements. First, they agree to submit one or more stories each year that tell the interfaith community-at-large the most important news about their work, what they most want us to know about them. Second, they commit to distributing TIO to their constituencies. If your group is interested in being a Supporting Partner, please contact me at info@theinterfaithobserver.org.
  •  TIO will no longer publish a Religious Calendar. TIO’s main purpose has always been to make available interfaith news and opinion that is not easily available to the general reader. Read the Spirit freely circulates an excellent religious calendar backed up with splendid stories about the various festivals and special holy days of the world’s spiritual and religious traditions. Check it out, and – bonus – you’ll find other valuable interreligious resources in Read the Spirit’s weekly postings.
  • This winter TIO’s website will be upgraded and will include a “TIO Library” where more than 2,000 articles can be quickly accessed by subject, title, or author. We’ll also have an interactive ‘map’ of the more than 40 themes TIO has unpacked since 2011.

In brief, the response to TIO these first few years has been so positive that we’ve become overextended. This set of corrections has taken a while in developing, but they should refocus our efforts and make this monthly feast of interfaith stories more useful and inspiring.

Thank you to the host of TIO’s contributors – writers, donors, interns, our webmastering team, and leaders who have come forward and provided the kind of help that makes everything easy and valuable for all of us. As we enter this season of lights and holy celebration, may you and your colleagues and families be safe and blessed.