My Response to AWP’s decision to Move The Writer’s Chronicle to an All-Digital Format

Yesterday, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) sent out an email to members announcing that AWP’s magazine, The Writer’s Chronicle, will no longer have a print version. Here is the text of the email:

“Dear Daniel, 
 
Thank you for your continued membership with AWP. We are reaching out to inform you of an upcoming change to the way you receive The Writer’s Chronicle. Beginning with the September 2022 issue, the magazine will now be offered only digitally and no longer in print. You can access The Writer’s Chronicle via our website or our mobile app, where you can also receive notifications when new issues are published.  
 
The digital version of the magazine will have the same layout as print while allowing us to offer many new features. For example, we now offer narration for all articles, and beginning with the September issue, we will provide an enhanced visual format, including multimedia content. Best of all, as a member, you now have access to full versions of over a decade of Writer’s Chronicle issues! 
 
After listening to feedback from our members, we have made the decision to discontinue the print version of the Chronicle to do our part to make the planet a greener place. This change also allows us to make the magazine more accessible to readers and writers with disabilities and gives us the flexibility to expand and modify our content. We hope you enjoy increased access to our digital archive. If you would like assistance accessing the digital magazine or downloading the app, please reach out to awp@awpwriter.org. 
 
Happy reading! 
 
Your AWP Membership Team”

I find this development deeply vexing, and sent this email in return:

“Dear AWP,

I must say that I am saddened and frustrated by this change. I appreciate the organization’s attempts to make The Writer’s Chronicle more accessible, but many people, myself included, have vision and cognitive disabilities that make reading on screens much more difficult than reading on paper. It would be nice if there was an option to still receive a print version. Yes, it’s possible to print from the website, but this requires time on the computer and places further cost on members for printing resources. As it stands, this decision makes one of the primary benefits of AWP membership much less enticing because we are paying more for less–I note that the email does not mention a reduction in dues because of this change.

It would also be helpful if you could be transparent about the “feedback from our members” that went into this decision. Were surveys conducted, and if so, what were the results? And so on. Maybe I am being cynical, but my immediate reaction was “they are doing this to save money on printing costs and using language about saving the environment to mask the true reason.” I may be wrong in this reaction, but sharing the data that went into the decision with members would allay such fears. If it IS a financial decision, that is a legitimate reason, but the organization should be honest about it. 

Thanks for listening, and I look forward to your response,

Daniel Shank Cruz”

If I get a response I will share it as well.

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