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OFF LIMITS

Brawl in the family: The fact that Family Focus was here first--the nonprofit service agency was founded in Denver almost twenty years ago--hardly mattered. Once James Dobson moved his Focus on the Family organization from California to Colorado Springs a few years ago, it didn't take long for people to start confusing the two.

In fact, Focus on the Family representatives paid a courtesy call on Family Focus two summers ago, suggesting "it would be nice" if the group changed its name. Family Focus officials demurred, saying they thought it would be pretty easy to keep the two organizations clearly in focus.

But this spring, Family Focus finally surrendered to the inevitable. Although it had used the name long before Focus on the Family was a twinkle in Dobson's eye, the nonprofit was having a tough time fighting off an organization with over 1,300 employees, airtime on 1,200 radio stations, lots of money and an official connection to heaven. So this week, Family Focus will announce that it officially is changing its name to Family and Community Education & Support--FACES.

The confusion simply became more trouble than it was worth, says FACES marketing director Jim Zigarelli, particularly when the two groups kept getting checks intended for the other. But it wasn't just a matter of money. Focus on the Family endorses many things that Family Focus heartily opposes--including the physical disciplining of children. That made it "a major issue for our board," Zigarelli says. "The overall sense was something had to be done."

Appropriately enough, they took it to focus groups, asking several dozen people what they thought of the name--and helping clarify their mission in the process. "It really made people focus," Zigarelli says. "We're saying don't spank. Don't hit. Stop the violence. By changing the name, our values become very clear, very distinct."

The new FACES contacted Focus on the Family to announce the name change and suggest that Dobson's group cover the cost--about $30,000. Instead of agreeing to a settlement, though, Focus on the Family offered to send a donation--which FACES turned down after a lengthy discussion of ethics. "It's hard to reject a donation," Zigarelli says, but if his group had accepted it, Focus on the Family somehow "would be part of us. We just hope there are enough members of the community who agree with our decision."

Fortunately, God works in mysterious ways.

Read the fine print: Twice a year--when the Audit Bureau of Circulation releases its newspaper sales figures--Denver's dailies crank up the hype machines. The Denver Post won no prize for subtlety with its May 1 story, which, in the process of reporting that Sunday sales were at a record 450,483 and daily sales at an all-time high of 293,777, managed to quote no fewer than four of the paper's managers lauding the accomplishment. The Rocky Mountain News, on the other hand, got extra points for modesty with a story that, after reporting that the News's Sunday circulation of 458,537 was also a record high, gave the floor to publisher Larry Strutton, who noted his displeasure in his paper's daily sales--which plunged 19,210 over the past year--before offering the standard pep talk.

 
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