Some ten years ago we were perhaps a bit audacious in this space in comparing the launch of this brand new publication, The Credit Union Journal, by making a reference to 19th century credit union pioneer Fredrick Raiffeisen. Call it a stretch goal, one the Credit Union Journal continues to stretch to meet with every issue.
The reference to Mr. Raiffeisen (if you don't know the reference you should, and can find a very good history at, of all places, www.jamaicascreditunions.com) was to the 20 years he spent in the mid-19th century tinkering, failing and finally succeeding with what would eventually become the credit union model we know today.
Our reference was to the history of the founders of the Credit Union Journal, who by that time had already spent nearly a decadethemselves tinkering with delivering news to credit unions in a weekly newspaper before we published our first issue in January of 1997. Now, with this our 511th issue, we take the wrapper off what we believe to be the culmination of our best tinkering yet.
As you can see, we've made some changes. Here's what's in store for readers:
* First, we trust you've noticed we've redesigned the Credit Union Journal. The redesign is aimed at delivering the critical information CEOs and senior executives need in a more appealing fashion. What hasn't changed is a commitment I made here in our inaugural issue: we understand readers are pressed for time and that in-baskets are full. Readers tell us the reason the Credit Union Journal has always gone to the top of that in-basket is our reporting is balanced and concise, cutting right to the point and providing the critical information needed to make informed decisions.
* New paper stock. Actually, it's old paper stock. Long-time subscribers to the Credit Union Journal will recall this newspaper was originally published on glossy enamel stock. When we learned a change to newspaper stock would allow us to push our deadlines back one day, we made the move. Now we are able to maintain the later deadline but also offer readers improved paper quality.
* Refocused coverage. We got a jump on this one. In July of 2006 The Credit Union Journal essentially moved the bottom line to the top. Readers have never provided more feedback than in requesting additional coverage of balance sheet-related issues. In 2007 and beyond, that's just what Journal readers will get, including a new feature we're calling "LeaderBoard" in which ROA leaders are profiled. Look for related coverage on growing income, cutting expenses (as you'll see on this page, the Journal and some of its sponsors can help with that) and managing the bottom line.
* More integration between www.cujournal.com and the print edition. Paid subscribers to the Credit Union Journal can access every story reported since 2000. Searching for an idea? Looking to see how other credit unions resolved a challenge you're facing? Log on, click on the archive and get the answers you're seeking.
* Numerous other exciting, new features, including a quick overview of CUs in every state, a calendar of upcoming meetings and events on page 6, and an agenda of Washington-related hearings and comment deadlines.
And that's just the beginning. We'll continue to do all those things and more with a veteran news reporting staff that no other credit union publication can match.
In the past 10 years we've reported thousands of stories. Hosted conferences. Taken readers around the world. We've made some mistakes. The Journal has led the way in exposing the profits being made by insiders at converting CUs. We've staged "Extreme Makeovers." Our readers came to the rescue of one small CU. We've challenged leaders who talked about high ideals of multiculturism and diversity, when their own boards were mostly white and male. We've questioned "experts" who suggest the fundamental CU concept is obsolete, when all the evidence suggests it's just the opposite.
Thanks to your readership, we've enjoyed a decade of success, even though in 1997 I was told by more than one person that the Journal would fail. I suppose Mr. Raiffeisen was told the same thing.
Publisher Frank J. Diekmann can be reached at fdiekmann<at>cujournal.com.