Friday, November 6, 2015

The Catholic Times is dead, requiescat in pace

From the editor
The Catholic Times will be replaced by a magazine called  Catholic Life. Produced in  partnership with the Diocese  of Lansing (Mich.), it is believed that an attractive and  well-produced magazine will  have a readability that newspapers don’t. And, in keeping  with the times, Catholic Life  will be heavily augmented  by electronic media, such as  email, and social media: Facebook, Twitter and websites.

Bishop Callahan, in his  “Bishop’s Corner” published in the Oct. 1 issue of The Catholic Times, said that members  of the diocese do not need to  subscribe, “your registration  at your parish will guarantee  that you will receive the new  magazine, even if you do not  currently subscribe to the  newspaper.”

It is common knowledge  that experiencing change  can be difficult. Rather than  mourn the loss of the paper, is  it not better to embrace Catholic Life and its associated  electronic and social media?
Also in full:

Fostering the Truth and the Word in the truth of words
A look back at the Catholic Times
By Joseph O'Brien
Staff Writer

The towering oak and maple trees outside my window have been all but stripped bare; a leaden sky hangs low over La Crosse this early evening as it rains intermittently.

If the recent mild weather is Wisconsin summer’s last resistance, today’s weather is an indication that Wisconsin autumn is most certainly here to stay… At least for a while.

As I look out the window, I think about all my hours as a staff writer writing up the stories of the people and places of the diocese; I also think of all the miles of travel I’ve undertaken through the rich variety and dynamic faith of the 19 counties which make up the Diocese of La Crosse.

Then I watch another leaf from one of the oak trees as it is plucked by the wind and falls to the ground. Yes, the leaf reminds me, since this is the very last issue of The Catholic Times, today is an appropriate day to look back on the paper I’ve been honored to serve as writer, sometime editor, and correspondent for these last 15 years or so.

I’ll leave it to others to explain the changing demographics and habits of consumption of the reading public. Our beloved paper today holds its own at 29,000, larger than many secular papers (dailies included) and larger than the other Wisconsin diocesan papers – and, if praise from within and outside the diocese is any indication, I’d like to think I speak for the newspaper’s entire team when I say that, as we put this last issue to bed, The Catholic Times is going out on top.

As press time nears for the Oct. 29 issue, the busy clicking of computer keys falls silent; the lively buzz of The Catholic Times newsroom dies away for a final time; the ringing phones and computer chimes which serve to alert the staff to incoming emails from sources, other news outlets and our readers ceases too. I’ll miss these signs of life – and I’ll also miss my readers. Eighty years of black and white and read all over will be fi led away for good – along with the hundreds of thousands of stories that the diocese has delivered to the Catholic faithful to bolster their faith, inform their minds and consciences, while at the same time touching their hearts with the human tragedy and uplifting their spirits with the human comedy.

It is a bittersweet time for this newsman – and yet, I take solace in knowing I’ve executed my duties with aplomb and due diligence, faithful and obedient to the Magisterium of the Church which Jesus Christ our Savior founded, and in full confidence that Christ remains king of hearts, minds, nations and the universe…

In my office at the Holy Crosse Diocesan Center, tacked to the bulletin board above my desk is a collection of handy phone numbers, schedules, calendars and dates to remember. I also have hanging there in large 26 point old timey typewriter font a copy of Peter Maurin’s “Easy Essays.” A founding member of the Catholic Worker movement and journalist, Maurin is best known for his work with Dorothy Day in establishing a Catholic alternative to the communist and socialist secular materialism which plagued (and to a large extent still plagues) the modern world.

Maurin’s “Easy Essays” were a series of free-verse poems which Maurin penned as a way to effectively cut to the chase when it came to providing the reader a concise analysis of the day’s issues from a Catholic standpoint. As Dorothy Day herself once said, “Peter [Maurin] was a revelation to me.” So too the essay “Prostitution of the Press” was an epiphany for this freshman journalist. It is a sharp and concise defi nition of the need for and ideals of the Catholic Press, one which served me well as a sort of verbal “vade mecum” in my travels around the diocese.

I’ve had an excellent formation as a Catholic journalist from the editors I’ve served, including Thomas Szyszkiewicz, Dan Rossini, Stan Gould and Denis Downey, and the tremendous models for journalism I found in the many writers I had the privilege to work with, especially former senior writer Patrick Slattery, and former staff writers Justin Dziowgo and Franz Klein.

No reporter is greater than the folks who make sure the paper gets to press in a timely and well-designed way and so I would also like to mention Paul Rupert, Jean James and Danelle Bjornson, the three production designers I’ve worked with, and their excellent visual translation of the stories I’ve sought to bring to the households and parishes of the diocese. I reserve special mention, too, for Pam Willer, a 38 year veteran of Catholic pressroom management who as much as anyone had kept the paper a dynamic and effective vehicle of catechesis from one news cycle to the next.

I can think of no better way to salute these folks as I end my time here as a Catholic Times reporter than by presenting Maurin’s essay in full:

Prostitution of the Press

Modern newspapermen
try to give people
what they want.
ought to give people
what they need.
To give people
what they want
but should not have
is to pander.
To give people
what they need.
or in other terms,
to make them want
what they ought to want,
is to foster.
To pander
to the bad in men
is to make men
inhuman to men.
To foster the good in men
is to make men
human to men.

It is my hope that for these past 16 years I have done my best, from byline to dateline, lede to clincher, fi rst word and last, to uphold Maurin’s ideal. A special thanks to you, too, dear readers. As your man in the fi eld, I am grateful and honored to be able to help foster the Good News of Christ as a regular part of your news cycle.

Thank you and God be with you!

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