Staying Ahead in a Media World
by Father Charles L. Fuld
In a recent issue of the magazine Editor & Publisher, one of the articles addressed the question of how editors of newspapers and magazines decide which stories to publish and whether, in so doing, they are reflecting their own values or the needs of their readership.
It gave me pause to address that same question to this newspaper of ours, The Southern Cross.
Of course, we have to keep our mission statement in mind: “The official newspaper of the Diocese of San Diego with print and Internet presence should assist the Local Church to fulfill its teaching and pastoral mission by: (a) informing the faithful about the life and work of the Church throughout the diocese, including its multicultural diversity, (b) offering news and information which will foster unity with the Church throughout the world, and (c) instructing the faithful regarding authentic Catholic teaching and practice.”
That includes messages from our bishop and articles about our Holy Father, Pope Francis, but also calls for us to keep you posted on what is going on at various parishes of the diocese — without infringing on the role of individual pastors. Yes, we often look to individual pastors to address subjects particular to their parish, because each parish is unique. So certain matters are left to parish bulletins and Web sites.
On the other hand, if there were no Southern Cross, much of the Catholic story would be left untold because of its lack of coverage in much of the local news media.
Over the years, The Southern Cross has received numerous Catholic Press Association awards, and its staff members have earned recognition from the Society of Professional Journalists and the San Diego Press Club for their work. And I know we have many loyal readers because, whenever I visit a parish and mention The Southern Cross, I receive many favorable comments about its content, including its new Spanish-language supplement and its once-a-year senior supplement.
Still, the question raised by Editor & Publisher is a good one — one that needs to be addressed to our readers from time to time. So here it goes: How are we doing? How can we better meet your needs as a practicing Catholic? What are we failing to cover? Is our coverage of the whole diocese balanced — or have we been giving emphasis to the parishes within our city limits? How can we better appeal to younger readers? Are there subjects we seem never to cover? Are there ministries we seem to ignore?
And yes, we are looking to build up our circulation — which currently sits at 38,000 (making it one of the largest circulation newspapers in San Diego County). To that end, we have been passing out “Welcome to the Catholic Family” postage paid cards in English and in Spanish to offer free subscriptions to all newcomer families, including families entering parish RCIA programs, confirmation classes and the like. Those cards probably should be offered to all families enrolled in our Catholic schools. And what about buying a subscription for young people moving out of the area to attend schools or the military — what better way to keep them in touch with their home Church? Yes, we are looking for help in all these areas — perhaps even to the extent of recruiting Southern Cross “ambassadors.”
So, I’m asking for your thoughts on this subject in letter form or e-mail. No, we will not publish them; but yes, I will sincerely take them to heart — all of them.
The Southern Cross