'The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah's Kingdom' - History of 'The Watchtower' magazine
"The purpose of the Watchtower is to exalt Jehovah God as the Sovereign Lord of the universe. It keeps watch on world events as these fulfill Bible prophecy. It comforts all peoples with the good news that God's Kingdom will soon destroy those who oppress their fellowmen and thus it will turn the earth into a paradise. It encourages faith in God's now-reigning King, Jesus Christ, whose shed blood opens the way for mankind to gain eternal life. The Watchtower, published by Jehovah's Witnesses continuously since 1879, is nonpolitical. It adheres to the Bible as its authority." - 'The Watchtower' magazine
'The Watchtower' magazine began life in 1876 when the young Charles Taze Russell joined forces with Nelson H. Barbour, who was at the time publishing an Adventist magazine known as the Herald of the Morning. Russell began supporting the magazine financially, and took over full responsibility in 1879. Following a break from Barbour, Russell continued to publish what was effectively his own magazine, naming it 'Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence'. He also founded the Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society (later to become the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society (WTBS)) as a publishing organisation. The initial print run of this new magazine was 6,000 copies.
As interest in his teachings grew, so did the circulation of the magazine, and it quickly became the mainstay of Russell's proselytising, being distributed both through the door-to-door work of congregation members, and by postal subscription. In 1939 it was renamed to 'The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah's Kingdom', reflecting the change in emphasis away from Jesus.
Since then, the Watchtower has become a primary tool in Jehovah's Witnesses' congregational and family teaching, keeping congregation members up to date with the Society's teaching. Regular articles include "Questions From Readers", in which doctrinal questions are answered, overviews of the work of the WTBS, and a biblical perspective on world events. This contrasts with the Awake! magazine, which is aimed at more general education.
Each issue also contains at least two study articles, designed for use at an hour-long weekly congregational meeting (usually held on a Sunday). The study articles use preset questions which are used to draw answers out from the audience, and all congregation members are encouraged to give their responses, in line with the printed material.
The magazine is primarily a tool to expound the Bible, and the main articles are always on a Scriptural theme. The main aim is to expose what the Society views as 'false religion', and build up Scriptural knowledge both within and without the congregation.
Published twice a month in most countries, the magazine is available in 126 languages, of which 114 are translated and published simultaneously - quite an undertaking. Its circulation of 22 million, makes it the most widely-available religious magazine in the world. Nowadays, it is distributed primarily in the door-to-door ministry, along with its companion magazine 'Awake!' by Jehovah's Witnesses around the world.