Happy 10th, Utne Reader! Its hard to believe Ive seen that little perfect-bound mag tucked under friends arms for a decade now. It seems like just yesterday when Scot DeGraf, membership manager at Sojourners, started passing his copy around the office with a post-it note attached suggesting specific articles for certain people.
Ive at times been curious at the reader response of Sojourners staff to Utne. Although an overlay of "progressive" politics defines its coverage, the Utne Readers perspective has always been elusive, likely intentionally so. Its appeal, I suspect, is related to its invitation to anyone not too closely allied to the mainstream.
Chicano assistant editor Aaron Gallegoswho admits up front to reading Utne with some regularitysays, "The Utne Reader does not take positions. It tries to touch on all systems of values without basing itself in any one tradition. It offers no critique. Maybe thats good for some people."
Laura Zylstra-Garth, new director of member development at Sojourners, counters, "The Utne Reader reflects an opinion that isnt the predictable mainstream. Other mags make me feel manipulated, but Utne challenges me to think on my own, question my own opinion, and re-evaluate it."
Scot, a 15-year staffer, pushes this thought a step further. "There is a value in having a place to see different people and perspectives without saying these folks are right or wrong. I dont have natural avenues to pick up a lot of the material that Utne provides," he says.