Five years after the Catholic Standard and Times newspaper ceased publishing in 2012, people still ask me if we will ever again have a local Catholic print publication.
I explain that since 2012 the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has been offering Catholic news, information and faith formation exclusively in digital format on CatholicPhilly.com. I tell them it’s updated every day, not every week or month.
I tell them CatholicPhilly.com today reaches three times more people digitally than the CS&T did in its final days. Though it is an imprecise comparison, the CS&T distributed 35,000 copies of the newspaper each month in 2012. CatholicPhilly.com received 106,000 visitors – people who clicked on the website – in the past 30 days.
I tell people we’re especially reaching those younger people who prefer to learn more about their faith, and everything else, through their cell phone. More than half of our audience uses a mobile device.
My answer to whether we would ever launch a new publication was sorry, no. Today my answer is, maybe.
Even as CatholicPhilly.com continues to serve readers on digital platforms, we know there are people who either can’t or won’t access this inspiring digital content. That is why I am proposing the possibility of a new print publication to serve those Catholics who feel left behind because they don’t use digital communications.
We’re just starting to assess whether launching a new print publication is feasible. We can’t offer it and simply hope people will buy it. Instead, we need to know from potential readers whether the publication can be financially viable from the start.
Simply put: if we have enough interest from potential subscribers right now, we can launch the publication later this year. If we don’t have enough interest, we won’t launch it.
I propose a $40 annual subscription fee (maybe less, depending on the final projections) for a printed news magazine of around 20 pages, mailed to homes every other week.
If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a subscriber, please let me know by emailing me (please indicate your parish too) at firstname.lastname@example.org, or speak to the priest or deacon at your parish. They have already been informed of this concept and are now talking to parishioners to assess potential interest in it.
The only way we can provide a publication beginning in the fall of this year is to forecast the participation of parishes and, especially, of individual subscribers.
By the end of this month, I hope to receive estimates from our clergy of how many parishioners might purchase a subscription, and how many gift subscriptions a parish might purchase for its members.
Whether a print publication comes to fruition or not, CatholicPhilly.com will continue serving Catholics of this region and far beyond with primarily local Catholic news and information, faith formation and inspiration from Catholics in this archdiocese. We’ll also continue offering national and international news plus commentary, catechesis and award-winning feature stories, photos and videos of the Catholic community.
One lesson learned from recent years is that we can’t take for a granted that a newspaper, a company, or a parish will always be there. We have a personal responsibility to support the things we value.
That’s why ministry requires money. The potential proceeds from print subscriptions can support our ongoing efforts to tell the good news of the Catholic faith in our community – both in print and, more and more, digitally.
And recognizing that digital readers remain our core audience, I am also asking for your donation in support of CatholicPhilly.com’s mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire everyone in our local and global community. Please donate here.
Because even with this potential print publication, we are not limiting ourselves to the way things have always been done. We want to use every means, new and old, to deliver the message of Jesus Christ to a world that so needs to hear it.