As promised in the January issue, we begin this month a letters to the editor department to be titled “Feedback.” However, we do so with fear and trembling, simply because, as one leader put it, “It isn’t on the radar scope of youth to write in and tell you when you’ve done a good job.” Our biggest fear is that you won’t even tell us when we’ve done a bad job, missed the target, or ignored topics of importance. This points up the major purpose of “Feedback”: It is to allow you, the readers for whom the New Era is intended, an opportunity to voice your thoughts about the magazine—perhaps adding an additional fact the author overlooked; perhaps simply informing other New Era readers of something of general interest; or informing us of your response to the role and performance of the New Era. We won’t have enough space to print all letters, nor all of their contents, but we will print those segments that contain your central thought and will make every effort to represent reader response fairly.
Now the big test begins—will Latter-day Saints between twelve and thirty who take the New Era write and express their thoughts so that this department can flourish? Only the months ahead will tell.
Incidentally, concerning the many congratulatory letters we have received, we can reprint only a handful.
As a “Young Americans” writer for the Deseret News and a writer for the Daily Utah Chronicle (University of Utah), I have seen various youth publications. Yours is far and away the best of them, competent with any modern magazine published that I have seen. Enclosed are some comments I made about the magazine in the East Mill Creek Stake priesthood leadership meeting:
“Frankly, I didn’t expect the New Era to be this good. In all respects it is an outstanding magazine, not only in content and subject matter, but in the technical aspects as well, particularly in graphic layout. Brother Jay M. Todd, the managing editor, has certainly fulfilled his assignment in an excellent way in this first issue, and his entire staff is to be commended. Naturally, there are things that can be improved—there are always things that can be improved—but there won’t need to be many if the rest of the editions are as good as the initial one. This is indeed a very fine piece of literary work. But the most important aspect of this magazine is that it is designed to appeal to the youth, and it fulfills this design not only adequately, but well.
“The layout is modern, crisp, eye-catching, the kind of current styling that makes the magazine fun, easy to read, and appealing to youth. The inside cover and remarks are pertinent; President Smith’s article is excellent; the ‘Q&A’ section is fantastic; ‘Vietnam Sunday’ strengthened my testimony; the jokes and puzzles are fun and very applicable; ‘People and Places’ gets the youth involved, and the report from Canada on the recent turmoil there is excellent; the article on Joseph Smith is good; being a music critic, I found the article on pop music an excellent handling of a touchy and difficult subject; ‘I Feel Free’ featured youth—and emphasized youth—and that is the outstanding quality of the magazine; ‘Policies and Procedures’ answers questions; I personally didn’t go for the ‘Quiche Lorraine’ article, but my sister went ape over it; George Romney’s talk is excellent; the basketball thing is one of the finest things I’ve ever seen in this type of publication, and the same thing goes for the articles on refuting handwriting analysis, on early marriages, and on girls’ dress standards.”
Richard M. Romney Salt Lake City
Presidentof the First Council of the Seventy
Grateful thanks to your staff! Our two sons at home, sixteen and eighteen years of age, found interest and appeal that related to them personally between the covers of your first issue. It is filled with inspiration, information, and fun. Last weekend we gave our sons the assignment of choosing an article from the magazine and reporting on it for the following family home evening. It was so successful that we are repeating this way of sharing and developing speaking skills again this evening.
Betty C. McEwan Pasadena, California
The New Era is just great! I read both January and February, cover to cover, and then with great enthusiasm called my fifteen-year-old son into my study and showed him such articles as “Vietnam Sunday,” “Basketball,” “The Romance of Mary Mormon and Norman Nonmormon,” the message from President Lee, and so forth. That was at 10:00 P.M., and at 12:30 A.M. he was still reading. I am hooked. It’s the best publication we have, and I am going to read it, cover to cover, every month, if I can get it away from my boy long enough.
Neil Schaerrer First Counselor, Salt Lake Stake Presidency
I’m eighteen years old and a senior at Kearns High School, and I have just read the first two issues of the New Era. I love it!
Anita Facer Kearns, Utah
My wife, Carol Lynn, and I had our first chance to see the first edition of the New Era last night, and we are quite enthused about it. Best wishes. We look forward to future editions.
Gerald Pearson Provo, Utah
May we congratulate you on an inspiring magazine. How we appreciated the wide range of material and the excellence of production! We especially appreciated “The Day of the Amateur” [January] by Hugh Nibley. And in response to his statement that the amateur need not cower in his ineptness, coupled with Brother Todd’s personal invitation to send contributions, we humbly submit some of our work.
Tom and Marilou Meyers Students, BYU
This is to compliment you on the quality of the first two issues of the New Era. I especially liked the February issue, with the editorial by President Harold B. Lee, the article on writing research papers, and the article on how to tie a tie. Since I am a bishop in one of the BYU wards, I took the occasion last Sunday to review the entire issue with my ward council and found them very receptive to the contents. I also made mention of “What I’d Like Most to Talk to My Son or Daughter About” in our fast and testimony meeting. Everything in the February issue was appropriate to some need or problem that I have felt as the bishop of a campus ward.
Robert K. Matthews Director, Academic Research Seminaries and Institutes
I’ve read the first two issues cover to cover. Let me say that the New Era is the first Church periodical whose content compels me to read all of it. You should be receiving medals and citations by the dozens. I really wondered if the job could be done. It can! I am struck and amazed by the sustained quality of what you print. Are the youth perceiving it the same way? Terry Warner’s article, “If You Are Young, Uncynical, and Idealistic” [February], is a classic—something so obvious, but never articulated!
Don Norton Department of English Brigham Young University
Pen Pal Club
I’ve read the first issue and think the New Era a great idea and very worthwhile. I have already bought two subscriptions for two pen friends. I have thirty-two pen friends and feel that it would be a good idea to have a pen friend club sponsored by the New Era. It would help tie the youth of the Church together.
G. H. Gordon New South Wales, Australia
Your suggestion is under advisement. We also think your gift idea great! After these first few issues, everyone knows what the New Era is going to be like. Is it something that you’d be proud to give as a gift to a friend? At this writing, we have about 90,000 circulation. Think what could happen if each reader were to give a $3.00 year-around gift to a friend who is not taking the magazine or perhaps to a non-Mormon friend!
I hope the youth of the Church are as excited as I am about the New Era.
In ward youth committee, though, everyone wanted to know when the magazines were going to come. Very few had received even the first issue. [February 7, 1971.]
Judith Lynn Gailey Dallas, Texas
The job of changing hundreds of thousands of names on the subscriber lists of the old Church magazines and receiving thousands of new subscribers was a monumental undertaking handled with as great dispatch as our business office could muster. Certainly there are many New Era subscribers who probably just received their first issues. We can only say this: If you are not getting your magazines on time at this point, see your ward or branch magazine representative immediately and urge him to write to our office even faster than that!
Number of Pages
What a fantastic magazine! But do you know what its trouble is? It’s too thin!
Rex Johnson New York City, New York
The only criticism I’ve heard concerning the New Era is that it’s too skinny. Don’t you think such a widely diversified group of readers as the twelve to mid-twenty crowd deserves more pages than the basically nonreading youth between the ages of four and eleven?
Bill Harris Los Angeles, California
The question of the number of pages hangs on three critical points: (1) Cost and circulation projections made last year indicated that a forty-eight-page magazine would be solvent—and we are expected to be solvent. (2) Only a significant increase in or the doubling of our circulation would permit sufficient budget for additional pages. (3) Some youth appear to like the existing size (small enough to read in several hours), and others want more pages for more variety and more topics. We plan to survey New Era readers later in the year to determine their preferences. In the meantime, the best thing everyone can do is to give a gift subscription or get someone else to subscribe!
I think the New Era is really, really wonderful. But one suggestion. Both my husband and I feel that the colors are too subdued. I know you’re trying to avoid a psychedelic look, but I’m sure it can be extremely colorful without looking psychedelic—and don’t worry, you don’t look psychedelic. The magazine really does lack for color. As our stake magazine representative, I want so much for this great magazine to be read by all of our youth—but to be done, it’s got to have a lot of color.
Janice M. Jacobson Short Hills, New Jersey
And here we were afraid that some people would think we were too colorful! (i.e., February.) The question on the amount of color we use is answered exactly like the question on number of pages—it all depends on our budget. Presently we are budgeted for an average of five four-color pages per issue, with a second color on thirty-eight others. If you want more color—sell more magazines! As for looking psychedelic, we avoid that with a passion, which is quite difficult simply because there are about as many definitions of what looks psychedelic as there are people in the world. Our rule is to be tasteful yet contemporary—and to use the kind of artwork that enhances the article but is never out of keeping with the gospel frame of reference.
The first copy of the New Era was very challenging. Every article compelled a person to read. My son wanted to read it all the way through. This morning as I looked at the February issue, the thing that disappointed me was the size of the print. Possibly it was because of the early hour, but I have strong glasses and I was having a hard time reading it. On the colored pages (“Me and the Marry-go-Round”) the print was so fine I couldn’t even try to read it. Later in the morning I asked my son if he could read it, and he said he could, so possibly all my alarms are ill-founded.
Chester W. Hill Ricks College Rexburg, Idaho
Many magazines are using smaller type these days. Older eyes are bothered where younger eyes do not fear to read (and the New Era is for the youth). Your question is a good one, though, and we want to know the answer also. When we survey our readership later in the year, we will also survey this point. We want to use a type size that invites readership. That must be our first consideration.
White Print on Black
Just one criticism (not too much for a very pleased mother whose teenagers have immensely enjoyed the New Era): when you print white letters on black as you did with George Romney’s article, it is hard on the eyes.
Arlene Miller Idaho Falls, Idaho
White on black is like the question of small type size—it bothers older eyes but often not young eyes. As a general rule, Qwe will use this excellent graphic technique infrequently—likely never more than once in an issue, and not every issue. The editor and the art designer are responsible for getting readership, and no one, particularly youth, likes to read or look at page after page of the same kind of graphic treatment. We intend to use every honorable technique in the book to attract attention and get readership.