Local Catholic publishing changes with times

October 29, 2015

 

By Christopher Gunty

When the Second Vatican Council ended in 1965, one archdiocesan newspaper in the United States made a special effort to get the final documents from the council into print quickly. That newspaper, the Catholic Review, had published earlier documents from the Council sessions between 1963 and 1965.

“Nobody has ever disputed our claim to be the first to publish the entire text of Vatican II documents. … We arranged for the pilot, TWA I think, to bring the last documents with him on a flight from Rome and they were immediately taken to our printer,” recalled A.E.P. “Ed” Wall, editor of the Review 1965-71. “We had published the previous documents as they were released.”

Times certainly have changed. “Where was email when we could have used it?” Wall mused.

With the recently completed world Synod of Bishops on the family, important documents from the gathering of bishops were available electronically within hours of their distribution. News and analysis about the meeting were posted online at CatholicReview.org the same day, without waiting several days for the next print publication. Those who heard snippets about the synod on broadcast media could turn to the Catholic Review online for reports from expert journalists who cover the church day in and day out.

So, in some ways, times have not changed much at all. Journalists in the Catholic press still labor in the vineyard, providing background and context that most journalists at secular news outlets cannot. But instead of waiting for a print deadline, we can share the news more quickly through a variety of digital platforms, as well as in print.

Through 160 years as the Catholic Mirror, the Baltimore Catholic Review and the Catholic Review, our team has been providing news and information in a Catholic context for our readers.

The Catholic Review and its predecessors covered groundbreaking news events in the church – including the Plenary Councils of Baltimore in the 1800s and the 1995 visit of St. John Paul II – and literal groundbreakings – for churches, parish buildings and recently, a new high school athletic field.

Within this continuity comes change. A dozen popes have sat on the chair of Peter and a dozen archbishops have led the Premier See since the Mirror started publication. But the news of the Catholic community in Maryland remains vibrant. There are plenty of stories to tell.

The Oct. 29 issue is the last issue of the Catholic Review in newsprint, but the Review is not going away. Beginning with Advent, we will publish a glossy monthly magazine and enhance our online efforts, adding new tools to communicate with parishioners locally and regionally. Granted, as a longtime newspaper guy from my high school days, it’s hard to make the transition from a newspaper to a news magazine.

My connection to the Catholic Review goes back more than the six years I have been at the helm here. Ed Wall, that editor who flew in the Vatican II documents, was my first editor and a great mentor in the Catholic press when he hired me in 1981 at The Chicago Catholic. In a way, his experiences in Baltimore are part of my own legacy in Catholic journalism.

But news isn’t about the kind of paper it’s printed on. Publishing is the point. It’s telling stories of faith in relevant ways for today’s audience.

Keep us in your prayers as the staff of Catholic Review Media begins a new publishing venture, keeping ties with the past as we look to future ways of communicating with our readers. St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists, pray for us.

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