15 January 2010

Ancestry Magazine---some thoughts

I posted earlier that Ancestry Magazine is ceasing publication with the March/April 2010 issue. I noted that several other genealogy bloggers mentioned it, but I really didn't see any comments on it other than they were sorry to see it go. I was hoping to hear a little opinion on any thoughts as to why the decision was made to end the print magazine.

I don't claim to have any more knowledge than anyone else, but a part of me is really not surprised. Print publications in genealogyland face stiff competition from the large quantity of free how-to information on the internet related to genealogy. Obtaining general information on a specific topic online is fairly easy, although the quality and accuracy of such online information varies greatly from one site and one author to another. Some are highly accurate and helpful. Others, not so much. But when a magazine is geared towards the "genealogy masses," as Ancestry magazine was, the competition from the internet (especially blogs) is fairly intense.

I'm not certain the economy is really to blame.

People subscribe to something when they can see how it benefits them and (in the case of a genealogy magazine) their research. Money is also a factor. I actually let my subscription to Ancestry magazine lapse several years ago as it just wasn't meeting my needs. I need specifics when I read how-to articles and I need details, more than usually are contained in shorter articles. My decision to let my subscription lapse had nothing to do with the internet, but I suspect that for many genealogists, it did.

I'm curious to see what others think about this decision.

Casefile Clues (my own weekly how-to newsletter) is still operational and I hope to continue it for quite some time. Changes for the better have been made since I began self-distribution in July of 2009. I used to occasionally write for Ancestry magazine years ago and also wrote a weekly column for their genealogy ezine for at least six or seven years. Editing my own publication has decidedly more headaches than writing for someone else, but there are several advantages:
  • I can write whatever I want
  • Word length is at my discretion
  • I don't have to worry about any advertisers (Casefile Clues accepts no advertising and has none on it's website http://www.casefileclues.com)
  • It is a hell of a lot more fun
  • Writing about them justifies my obsession with the Trautvetter family (Casefile Clues readers know that this family illustrates just about every research pitfall known to man)
  • I enjoy getting feedback from readers
  • I'm always excited when I get a new or renewing subscriber

To see what Casefile Clues is all about, request sample information by sending an email to samples@casefileclues.com