Amish news goes online


Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

Print newspapers moving their content to online is old news.  But, for The Budget, an Amish newspaper located in Ohio, the idea is, well, confusing.  The publication is the largest Amish publication and reaches almost 20,000 readers within the U.S. and Canada.  Despite controversy and strikes, The Budget went online the last week of September.  I categorize this event as the ultimate oxymoron.  

The print newspaper was hardly affected by the recession.  Therefore, the Amish going digital may seem unnecessary with print subscriptions that cost only $42 per year and most of the publication’s advertisers being Amish.  The 843 scribes that handwrite the newspaper also felt that because of this shift, they would lose their readers and be mocked online. 

The Budget is not only the oldest, but it is also the largest Amish publication.  The USA Today reported that The Budget “was born in 1890 as a series of letters swapped among Amish families who had dispersed across the Midwest.”  Is this the start of the ultimate cave-in for the Amish to go high-tech?  With their most renowned publication leading the transition, I think this just may be their first step in going modern.

Photo courtesy of Google

Photo courtesy of Google

Their website is broken up into different sections including: local news, events, school and of course, church, is easy to navigate and not overdone.  The publication owners believe that archiving will be much easier and articles will be able to be accessed quicker thanks to their website. 

Check out Jessica Best, the publication’s intern during the digital upgrade, on her blog where she wrote about The Budget’s move to online.

The publication is sticking to their guns on some views.  They are not accepting ads for anything they consider “taboo,” such as drugs and alcohol, but are surprisingly covering some local sports.  There’s no doubt that Amish readership will definitely expand as a result of The Budget going online.  Bottom line: you haven’t read Amish news like this before. 

 What does this switch to online say about print media and online news?  Will the Amish ditch their horse-drawn buggies next?


12 responses to “Amish news goes online

  1. I think examining the Amish culture definitely does represent one extreme of technology usage in America. I would agree that it is frightening that the culture that rejects the use of automobiles is comfortable using the Internet to spread news. However, I don’t think this means the culture is shifting its values anytime soon. As Clara said, they still reject certain advertisers, and I don’t think they’d bend the rules on this.

    I read a case for one of my classes last year (Wisconsin v. Yoder) in which the Supreme Court ruled that Amish children should not be forced to comply with compulsory education laws beyond the 8th grade because it was a violation of the culture’s freedom of religion.

    If the Amish are enough of a subculture to navigate compulsory education laws, I think they will manage to preserve their traditions, even on the Internet.

    If anything, maybe they are hoping to draw more people into the Amish communities? Posting their news online could be their new means of PR. But, I agree that this shift is certainly surprising news.

    • Erin-

      I definitely think it will draw more attention to the Amish community, if anything for the sole reason that the Amish have a website!

  2. I’m not highly educated on the Amish, but do most of them even have computers? Is this a way to spread their message or just help themselves?
    It seems to me like the hundreds of years of living their lives in a certain way won’t be changed much by the Internet.

    • That’s what I’m wondering. I don’t know if this move to the internet is even worth it. Although it does signify a big shift toward the internet, it might be an exception what print media in general are facing.

  3. I’m confused why The Budget went online. With the majority of subscribers and advertisers being Amish, this seems to be the one publication that would lose money by going online. But… unless this facet is circulated to the public who subscribes… how will they find out? I’ll admit as well to not being the most educated person when it comes to the Amish. But this seems more like a reach out to get publicity and non-Amish readership from the Web. Perhaps they want to display that Amish writing isn’t bland. However, I feel like they’re setting themselves up to be laughed at, and I mean that in the nicest way.

  4. The stand-up comics are going to have a field day with this.

    I’ve actually heard a lot about Amish culture creating a buzz recently. Apparently, some Amish romance novels are gaining a lot of popularity among members of the Amish community and those outside of it. The WSJ published an article about it a little while ago.

    I really don’t know enough about the Amish or The Budget in order to know what this will mean for the culture as a whole and/or the publication. However, my thought in all of this is, Who can possibly deny the way journalism is changing now?

    If the AMISH are using the web as the way to share their publication, how old-fashioned are those who aren’t?

    • I was thinking exactly the same thing! If the Amish are taking advantage of the Internet for what it has to offer then EVERYONE should be. Print journalism isn’t enough for people who don’t even believe in computers. Scary.

  5. Love the headlines:

    Fast and furious woolly worms to race at Charm Days

    Ohio Swiss Festival Saturday morning events graced with bright sunshine

    I want to live there when I retire.

    • The Amish news has a different tone about it to say the least. I read somewhere that The Budget ran a picture in its print publication of a girl wearing just a bra on top and it raised so much controversy– where as we can find kind of picture just in the JCPenny ads.

  6. If the amish media are online, shouldn’t all news media be online too? I mean, do you really want the amish to leave you in the dust when it comes to embracing technology?

    But do the amish have access to internet? How are they going to read news online?

  7. Most Amish don’t believe in technology–a.k.a. anything that needs to be plugged in or charged– besides some of the basics. For the majority of Amish, computers and the Internet qualify as a modern advancement that, I am sure, they do not support. This is why this news was so surprising to me. It must be about expanding their outreach.

  8. Clara where did you find this?? This is nuts. Think about how much work they had to do to get a working computer even. Don’t they not use any sort of electric product? Does that mean when they installed the cords and outlets for the computer and Internet that they sit in the dark with candles while they work on the site? It sounds complicated if you ask me.

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