In 2014 we took the somewhat controversial step of shifting everything we did onto several digital platforms. In particular this meant the fanzine would become exclusively available in digital format. We had been blessed since 1999 of having found a loyal readership for the true faith fanzine in hard-copy that had sustained it over the many peaks and troughs of Newcastle United and without sounding conceited we knew it was one of the most widely known and successful in the country of its type in that format.
Had the world been staying the same, we’d have been content to stay as a hard-copy fanzine forever but something called the internet had come along and digital technologies have had a profound impact upon every element of the media – be that behemoths like BBC, SKY, The Guardian but also kitchen top, micro-publications like fanzines too.
Have a look around your local high street and you’ll see newsagents disappearing, going out of business because people aren’t popping in for the paper like they once did and take any trip on the train, Metro, bus etc and you’ll see passengers taking their news via a smart-phone, tablet, lap-top etc. Our tipping point was the growing difficulty in working with a distributor we could trust, rely on and had a basic level of competence and understanding of the nature of what we did and how we worked.
It would have been possible for us to stay as a hard-copy fanzine but it would have meant accepting a dwindling readership, a huge reduction in the quality of finish and design we’d established over many years and we didn’t want to do that.
So, we embraced the digital age and saw in it the opportunities for supporters to express themselves to each other and maintain the core principles of the fanzine movement and avoid the sentimentality for paper-back which would have led to our growing irrelevance and extinction.
We have managed to create a small self-financing model for the fanzine that now allows us to put everything we do FREE
of charge. The new way of working allows us to be independent of the costs and risks associated with print, distribution and sales.
true faith SUMMER SPECIALS were always its biggest sellers but this latest issue has established itself as the most widely read issue of the fanzine we have ever published. It is the most widely read fanzine that Newcastle United supporters have ever produced and we’d calculate is the most widely read ever produced in the UK. Its numbers compared to the printed format are incredible and we think completely vindicates our decision to move everything to the digital format two years ago.
Whilst we are completely engaged with the digital methods we now have at our disposal we’ll also avoid the traps that some former fanzines and newspapers have fallen into in a desperation to drive website traffic to bring in advertising revenue. Our costs remain low and no-one has a desperation to derive a living from running all of this.
Frankly, it ill-befits some former fanzines to seemingly have swallowed the whole analytics business model and be in thrall to generating clicks because their traditional audience can spot it a mile-off and they have become reviled because of it. The same applies to the press, in particular the local media who appear to be under orders to drive traffic and as a result use social media in a tiresome click-bait crusade.
We will decide how many words an article will need to express its points rather than what some fad model of analytics tells us would be better for our numbers. That will never be our game. See also pretending we are anything other than a fanzine rather than pretend to be a news-feed of breaking scoops and all the rest of it when effect social media is simply an exercise in cut and paste, re-heated news stories and harvested real news shamelessly siphoned from some of the few people who have any kind of trustworthiness as a news outlook (i.e. nufc.com)
We will be committed to bringing you high quality reading material in the fanzine that is intelligently written, hopefully amusing in some regards, original and interesting. Just like we did in the hard-copy issue but with the added bells and whistles of the digital issue that makes the format so exciting and interesting.
This seems to be what our readership wants and happily we haven’t had dumb down to maintain and grow the numbers of readers we have.
On behalf of everyone associated with true faith may we thank you all for your support down the years and for making us the number one Newcastle United fanzine and confirming that Newcastle United supporters do want proper reading, properly expressed opinion and haven’t dumbed down.
Keep On, Keepin’ On …
To get at the latest issue of true faith, simply click on the image below and you’ll have the whole of the SUMMER SPECIAL in all its glory at your disposal.