A Word about the UM Portal

As most of you know, this past May CircuitWriter Media (of which I’m a partner) assumed control of www.unitedmethodistreporter.com in the wake of the closing of UMR Inc. which had operated the United Methodist Reporter in one form or another for over 160 years. While we purchased the website, Facebook page, Twitter account, and the rights to the name, there were many other properties of UMR Inc. that we didn’t take on, such as their print operation. One of those properties was an early web project of UMR called the UM Portal.

The UM Portal was UMR’s earliest attempt at ministry on the web. When it was first envisioned the notion of web users needing a “portal” (that is, a standard homepage that would be the first thing they would see when they opened their browser) to the web was popular, drawing of the examples of sites like Yahoo.com or MSN.com. The goal was to provide a central page that folks would direct United Methodists toward specific content. The portal concept was expanded to allow conferences, jurisdictions, and even congregations the possibility of portal pages customized for their purposes, allowing them to feature their own local news. It was an interesting project however as the nature of the web changed, focusing more on social networks and the rise of “apps,” the notion of a centralized portal fell out of fashion, leading UMR to establish www.unitedmethodistreporter.com just before the General Conference of 2012 as the primary means of distributing news content.

When UMR Inc. closed down they were still maintaining 10-20 customized UMPortal sites for a variety of customers. Rather than shutting down those sites UMR Inc. made arrangements with United Methodist Communications to continue the hosting of the UM Portal sites. UMCom agreed to host them, but provides no continued support for the UMPortal project. In essence the UMPortal project is in an archival state — still available on the web but not really functional or up to date.

So, what does that have to do with us? Unfortunately the UMPortal sites maintain the United Methodist Reporter branding. While they draw on our feeds to update UM news content, other portions of these sites are not being maintained and that reflects on our brand. We have received regular communication from folks who are frustrated because their access to the United Methodist Reporter has been through the UMPortal and they don’t understand why we aren’t updating those sites. In some cases congregations are still needing support for those pages and contact us since our name continues on the site. The bottom line is that folks think we should be able to address the UMPortal problems, but we have no control of those sites.

Obviously, we want you to continue to be a part of the United Methodist Reporter family, and if you have been connecting via a UMPortal page, we’d love to have you visit www.unitedmethodistreporter.com directly. If you are a conference or site that’s been using a UMPortal page for your web presence, we would be happy to talk with you about how to best move to a different platform that is up-to-date and more in keeping with how folks use the web today.

Our goal at CircuitWriter Media is to help United Methodists across the connection better tell our stories and connect with God, each other, and the world in profound ways. Our expertise is in using Internet based communication tools to help in that task. The UMPortal was one such tool which was an important step along the way, but is aging into obsolescence. Our hope is that we can provide new means of communication that builds on that tradition but helps United Methodists better communicate to the world that exists today.

If you have questions about your current UMPortal page, please contact UMCom via their website, www.umcom.org.

If you’d like assistance in better integrating www.unitedmethodistreporter.com into your site, or would like information on creating a new site for your church, conference, or organization contact Gavin Richardson at gavin@circuitwritermedia.com.

 

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 
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