ACKSON, Miss. (BP) — The Baptist Record will cease printing after 143 years, going fully digital and free of charge on its own website, according to editor William H. Perkins Jr. The newspaper is the official publication of the Mississippi Baptist Convention, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention
“There came a time when the last buggy repair shop in Mississippi had to close, because the need for horse-drawn carriages had passed,” Perkins said. “As automobiles were to horse-drawn carriages in another era, the internet has brought tremendous change to the news industry, both religious and secular.”
Perkins cited the newspaper’s declining print subscription base as a factor that led to the decision to cease printing, along with hard-to-predict future costs of newsprint and postage.
“Too,” he added, “the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus crisis, with no end in sight, has meant that advertising — an important part of balancing the Record‘s budget each year — has dropped off severely as companies prepare for more potentially bad economic news.”
The new website will feature a modern look and feel while retaining the same level of quality news reporting, opinion and local church news, said Perkins, who is in his 24th year as editor after serving four years as associate editor. He said it may take a while for the Baptist Record staff to learn how to take full advantage of the new site’s features.
The Baptist Record was founded in 1877 by Pontotoc, Mississippi, native J.B. Gambrell, a prominent Southern Baptist of his time.
In addition to starting the Baptist Record, Gambrell was a pastor in Mississippi; editor of the Baptist Standard, the official news journal of the Baptist General Convention of Texas; president of Mercer University in Georgia; one of the founders of Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; and a four-term president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“The legacy of strong leadership at the Baptist Record runs deep,” Perkins said. “The spiritual character of each of the 10 editors who preceded me is reflected in a study of their writings on the pages of the newspaper. The efforts are obvious for each one of them in meeting the challenges of their times and leaving the Baptist Record in a better position than when they arrived.”
“My passion and my dream are to be considered the 11th editor to do that,” he added.
The Baptist Record is the fourth Baptist publication to cease printing this year, following the Arkansas Baptist News, California Southern Baptist, and the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist. And more than a dozen others stopped printing in the previous eight years.