National Catholic Register

Opinion

You Will Know Us by Our New Fruits

BY FATHER OWEN KEARNS

October 18-24, 2009 Issue | Posted 10/15/09 at 1:58 PM

 

This week my note is quite a bit longer than usual. That’s because I am excited to tell you about significant improvements coming to the Register.

In a nutshell: We’re preparing to roll out a new delivery system. Adjustments are in store for both our website and our print newspaper.

First, we’re beefing up NCRegister.com to make it the go-to Web destination for Catholics in the know.

Our new website will offer original, breaking and exclusive news stories not as they roll off the press, but as soon as they’re filed. A news-aggregation feature, whereby we provide links to stories of interest from around the Web, will sift out the global information glut to point readers to the developments that matter most to Catholics in America. And an expanded weblog section, with posts not only from Register staff but also select guest bloggers, will invite conversation and formation on important issues.

We also want to offer greater appeal to a younger, up-and-coming generation — the children and grandchildren of many of our print subscribers — and greater utility for everyone. So one of the features we’re adding is interactivity. You’ll be able to comment on some of our content and discuss it with other readers.

As for our weekly print edition — so beloved by so many for so long — we will make changes that will help us position the paper to serve you, and serve you well, for years to come.

Readers have long told us that we pack so much into our pages that one week isn’t enough time to get through it all. Others say they look forward to the Register not just to catch up on the news but also for the enjoyable reading experience it provides. (Yes, there are still people in the world who like to pour a cup of coffee, put up their feet and pore over the pages of a favorite newspaper. Who knew?)

Then, too, our current print edition is oriented toward breaking news. That function will now be handled by NCRegister.com, so the print edition’s concentration will be on in-depth news analysis. We’ll redirect our literal ink from what just happened to why it matters and, especially, what it means for Catholics who want to engage the culture with Christ and help the Church change the world.

Taking all these factors into consideration, we have decided to take our print-publishing schedule biweekly. Soon you will get a Register in your mailbox every other week rather than every single week. (Of course, you’ll still receive the full number of issues you signed up for.)

We know this last element of our plan represents a big change for a lot of you to adjust to. It’s a big change for us, too. But we’re convinced that this is the right move to make at this time in this paper’s history. We firmly believe a refocused, biweekly Register will allow us to give you more value for your subscription payment than ever before.

The changes we’re rolling out have important ramifications for our readers who have become donors, too. The upgrades will bring firm assurance that we’re stretching every dollar we receive to help the Register do its part to build an authentically Catholic culture in the midst of secular aggression, cultural chaos and governmental overreach.

At this point it bears mentioning that there was a time not so long ago when we didn’t need to fundraise in order to meet our expenses. Those days are gone and probably won’t be back. The Register is not alone in looking for ways to proactively adjust to the business realities created by skyrocketing postage costs, ever-rising production prices and, especially, the industry-wide shift from print to digital.

Speaking specifically to that last point: Nearly every print-based media outlet is facing challenges when it comes to attracting new subscribers. What sets the Register apart from so many others, particularly the secular media companies, is a loyal base of readers who are more than just information consumers. They — you — are partners in a work that transcends temporal concerns and goes to the heart of the Catholic Church’s evangelizing mission.

That’s why the Register’s subscription renewals are, percentage-wise, among the highest in the entire newspaper industry every year.

Change is coming, but rest assured that one thing we will never alter is our commitment to inform Catholic minds, form Catholic consciences and help Catholics apply the mind of the Church to the issues of the day.

Thank you for your trust in, and your support of, our media apostolate. God bless you!