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Clueless in Rochester

Karen Franz is President of the Catholic Press Association (CPA), a professional group for Catholic periodicals and journalists which is largely of liberal complexion. She is also the General Manager and Editor of the Catholic Courier, official paper of the Diocese of Rochester, whose Publisher is Bishop Matthew Clark, one of the most liberal members of the U.S. hierarchy.

In her presidential column in the CPA’s paper, The Catholic Journalist (Sept.), Franz reminds us that young people are spending more and more time on the Internet and less time reading newspapers. Franz tells us that for over three years now the Courier has operated a Web site, but that somehow its Catholic Courier Online doesn’t interest the younger set any more than does the printed version. She suspects that other member periodicals of the CPA, “even those with top-shelf Web sites, complete with animated graphics and other bells and whistles,” are experiencing the same gloom.

We’ve been hearing that most diocesan papers are having a rough go of it in terms of readership these days. So Franz is understandably perplexed, and wants to know what can be done “to attract younger readers to our print and online products.” She continues: “Should we create chat rooms? Run games? Offer prizes? Stage glitzy promotions?… I haven’t a clue.”

We appreciate the lady’s candor. Yes, we’re referring to her “I haven’t a clue” statement, but also to her reference to her paper and its online version as “products,” for the use of that term just might indicate where the problem is. A widget is a product. But a Catholic paper is not a “product”; it’s an apostolate, a vehicle of evangelization, sanctification, catechesis, forming consciences, and everything that pertains to the Kingdom of God.

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