Readers of The Forum often ask how the decision to publish an article is made and by whom. And, while there are a number of people who work to produce the magazine every month, one of the most important elements is something most people have never heard of—the Forum Editorial Advisory Committee (or FEAC). The people on this Committee volunteer to review 50 sharings for The Forum each month. As one member put it, “Many Al‑Anon members acknowledge not feeling like they had a voice before coming to the program, but with this project, they can share their journeys in a most meaningful way.”
First, the FEAC volunteers look to see whether the sharing is topical—whether it reflects some aspect of the Al‑Anon program. They score each one and comment on their reason for scoring it as they did. Out of three possible scores, a score of 1 means the sharing is excellent and is suitable for publication. A 2 is still positive, but not as strong as a 1. A 4, on the other hand, means that the sharing is not appropriate for publication. There are several reasons why an article may not be publishable. For example, a sharing that focuses only on other types of addiction, such as drugs, rather than alcohol, is probably not acceptable. Or, it may be too directive, or in the words of one of the Committee members, too “teachy/preachy.” In other words, the author writes with a tone of directing the readers as to what they should do, think, or feel. Further, sharings that focus heavily on the alcoholic loved one and those that focus only on the problems associated with the disease are not likely to receive positive scores. If a reading gets more than one 4 score, it is deemed ineligible for publication. What’s comforting to know, though, is that even one of these sharings may contain a small excerpt that is publishable in the “One ‘Quote’ at a Time” department or for the back-flap quote.
Moreover, though, sharings that reflect hope are the most likely to receive high marks. After all, isn’t that why so many people “Keep Coming Back” to meetings? Then, the editing team uses the Committee’s input to determine what goes in the magazine. Finally, the Committee members meet via phone conference four times a year to discuss the magazine and how effectively they feel it is working. I am extremely grateful for this band of behind-the-scenes warriors. Further, the fact that they do this service work on a voluntary basis shows the commitment of each of the five members. Without them, this monthly instrument of hope and help for the friends and families of alcoholics would not be possible.
By Mark S., Magazine Editor
The Forum, August 2019