As Rotarians age, many body parts no longer serve the purpose for which they were designed. It is not uncommon for Rotarians, particularly in the case of accidents, to be put on life support, hoping that their non-functioning organs will once again become functional. Sometimes they do, but often, particularly in aged Rotarians, they don't, and the Rotarian becomes a memory.
So what does this have to do with The Rotarian magazine? According to the Rotary International (RI) By-Laws paragraph 20.010, the purpose of The Rotarian shall be to serve as a medium to assist the board (RI Board of Directors) in furthering the purposes of RI and the Object of Rotary. According to the financial analysis in the 2016 Council on Legislation's proposed enactment 16-97, The Rotarian generates approximately US$1.2 million annual revenue over costs.
Is The Rotarian accomplishing its purpose? This is an important question that requires unbiased examination and response simply because if the subscribers do not consider it useful, they will not read it. If it is not being read, it cannot be accomplishing its purpose. In addition, RI is known for being an organization that promotes high ethical standards. What ethical, and business management, perception is it delivering by continuing to mandate life support to an organ that may be non-functioning? The only accurate, objective manner to determine how many subscribers find it useful is for subscription to be voluntary.
RI must face reality. Its purpose is to create Rotarians. Its objective is to advance the Object of Rotary. These fundamentals have not changed, but Rotarians and times have. Years ago, when The Rotarian began circulation, it probably was accomplishing its purpose because printed media was the major means of universal communication. Today, many in the Silent and late Boomer generations (over 60) still gather functional information from printed media, but most Rotarians in the early Boomer, X, and Y generations primarily use electronic media, mainly tablets and smart phones. The printed version is an attractive magazine; the on-line version is okay on desktop monitors but is less user friendly on tablets and smart phones.
Just like the only true measure of RI's effectiveness in furthering the Object of Rotary is how many Rotarians its 35,000 member clubs retain and attract, the only true measure of The Rotarian's effectiveness is the number of voluntary subscribers that it could retain and attract. It is time to remove life support to determine whether or not The Rotarian is capable of serving its purpose.