UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
The United Church Observer's editor and publisher, Jocelyn Bell. (Photo: Lindsay Palmer)

The new name of 'The Observer' revealed!

"United Church" will no longer be on the cover, but our commitment to sharing denominational news and perspectives remains the same

By Jocelyn Bell

This issue marks a historic moment for the magazine. It is the last one to be published under the name The United Church Observer. Next month, we’re starting an exciting new chapter, relaunching in print and online as Broadview.

The name United Church Observer served this publication well for 80 of its 190 years. But recently, our hunch has been that people beyond the pews who would really enjoy the stories we produce aren’t subscribing. Either the magazine doesn’t reach them or the United Church moniker signals a magazine for “members only.”

Market research supported our hunch. Last spring, we surveyed 1,300 subscribers and 1,000 non-subscribers. Among the non-subscribers, 59 percent had never heard of The United Church Observer, and 25 percent knew the name but had never read it. And these are Canadians who regularly read magazines, share our liberal social values and consider themselves spiritual and/or Christian.

With this new information, The Observer’s Board of Directors decided that — along with the magazine’s 190th anniversary and The United Church of Canada restructuring — 2019 was the time to change. After all, we need new audiences to sustain this publication for years to come.

Coming up with a new name was even harder than naming a baby. For about two months, the editorial team obsessed over this task, scribbling down possibilities, drawing word diagrams, combing the thesaurus for alternatives. Copyright laws prevented us from simply truncating to “The Observer.” That name is already owned.

A sample cover of the new magazine. 

Some of you will know that our office is located on Toronto’s Danforth Avenue, near Broadview subway station. One morning, managing editor Kristy Woudstra was exiting the station on her way into work and thought, What about Broadview? When she shared it with me, I was unsure. Names are like that. It takes a while for them to take root. But the seed was planted, and it grew.

Broadview has both gravitas and levity. It feels like the name of a magazine that’s been around for a long time. It signals the open-mindedness and inclusivity that defines the United Church today. It even reaches those who think Christianity is dogmatic and invites them to discover a new expression of the faith. When we tested Broadview along with eight other names in our survey, both our current subscribers and non-subscribers favoured it by a wide margin. So the decision was made.

Although “United Church” will no longer be on the cover, the inside pages will contain the same amount of denominational news and perspectives. And our commitment to top-quality journalism through a progressive Christian lens will be as vibrant as ever.

I’ve had a year to get used to Broadview. And now it’s hard to imagine the renewed publication being called anything else. Thank you for sharing this momentous occasion with us. New adventures await!

More news: Two longtime staff members are also about to embark on new adventures. Senior writer Mike Milne, author of this month’s cover story, is retiring after nearly 36 years. And art director Ross Woolford is departing after working with the magazine since 1988. We are so grateful to both for their many years of dedicated service.


Author's photo
Jocelyn Bell is the editor-publisher of The Observer.
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!

Columns

(Photo: cuatrok77/Flickr via Creative Commons)

Cormorants aren't the devil

by Douglas Hunter

Ontario's proposed new measures amount to a slaughter of an entire native bird species for no scientifically compelling reason, says this writer

Promotional Image

Editorials

The United Church Observer's editor and publisher, Jocelyn Bell. (Photo: Lindsay Palmer)

The new name of 'The Observer' revealed!

by Jocelyn Bell

"United Church" will no longer be on the cover, but our commitment to sharing denominational news and perspectives remains the same

Promotional Image

Video

Meet beloved church cats Mable and Mouse

by Observer Staff

They're a fixture of Kirk United Church Centre in Edmonton.

Promotional Image

Society

February 2019

Marriage problems: Is the ancient tradition worth saving?

by Pieta Woolley

Bitterness and boredom seem to define many mid-life marriages, but we might not have to settle for apathy ever after

Ethics

February 2019

A Yukon artist and a Tlingit trapper create this stunning jewelry

by Amy van den Berg

The fur jewelry in Whitehorse boutique store V. Ægirsdóttir is creating a new possibility for future partnerships with the region's trappers

Columns

February 2019

Why white people need to stop asking, 'where are you from?'

by Mike Sholars

"...For all intents and purposes, Canada is the only home I really recognize or remember. But none of that matters if I look like I don’t belong, and that single question makes that abundantly clear every single time."

Promotional Image