Editorial for the Winter 2014/5 Newsletter

“The time has come” your editor said “to talk of many things” (and apologise to Lewis Carroll). I have been your newsletter editor for eight years (16 editions) and this edition, besides being my swan song (but see below), heralds innovations in how ECR communicates with its members. You are reading it on our new-look website/blog developed with much initiative and hard work by our webmaster Roger Fielding.

As I said last time, we needed a fresh approach – one which is more timely and dynamic than once every six months when a lot of the news is “old hat” and one which can take advantage of modern communication methods such as smartphones and tablets.

Although Roger is still developing the new system, it appears that I may still be involved, so groanfully you may not be totally shot of me just yet. After all, I have to have some outlet for my much celebrated humour.

Having thrilled you with all this good news, I want to boringly remind you of recent newsletter history which has led us to these changes. Most of us (and I include myself) loved to receive a 6-monthly newsletter through the post which we could read over our shredded wheat and coffee, but for the last three years the posted version had to be limited to eight of the 14 or more pages and even then, could only be sent to the few members who requested it in their questionnaire response. Most of you could only access the newsletter on the website, and it had become increasingly clear to me that, apart from a small number of loyal readers, most regular walkers did not read it at all or just skimmed through it cursorily.

Although I was rather miffed a couple of years ago when a member said to me “You have to understand Ralph, nobody reads it”, I have concluded that if we replace “nobody” with “very few”, he was correct, and so to a large extent I was wasting my time and energy. Even my wife Margaret had never read the newsletter on-line until a few days ago.

Clearly, we needed a fresh approach, one which members felt they could engage with. In my last editorial I asked you to send me your comments and ideas. I think it proves my point about how many of you read what I write, as other than our webmaster Roger Fielding, I received no comments and ideas at all. Probably none of you read my editorial. For that matter, perhaps none of you are reading this one, so …. but this gets rather philosophical!

By the time a 6-monthly newsletter is published, most of the news is old news. In these days of websites/blogs, Twitter, Facebook etc few are interested in old news, we want topical news which we can get much more conveniently on our smartphones and tablets than on a PC or even on a laptop.

I was also concerned, that with so few people reading the newsletter, topics which keep their importance, such as footpath inspection and maintenance reports, were being missed by members.

I hope you will all welcome the new approach; Roger and I will be interested in your views.  Do please use the contact form on the web site to send a message of support or dissent and your ideas to us. I say “us” because in our most recent discussions, Roger and I have concluded that it is not correct to say that the newsletter has died, as it is being reincarnated in the form of timely articles on the website. So despite my swan song protestations, it looking like you will still be able to send articles to me and I will edit them appropriately for the website. I do not know how all this will pan out as we are still on a learning curve.