Friday, February 18, 2011

What a week for Catholic Press Month

At Catholic newspapers in the United States such as the Catholic Standard & Times, February is Catholic Press Month. It’s a time when Catholic newspapers take stock of their value to society.

Many fewer Catholics are reading the paper than in decades past. But they are reading Catholic news.

Philadelphia became ground zero for the major news story of the past week: current and former priests plus a lay teacher were indicted and arrested in connection with a city grand jury report regarding clergy sexual abuse of minors.

The grand jury released its report on Thursday, Feb. 10. Since the CS&T’s deadline for publishing on Thursday is Tuesday evening, our Feb. 10 issue didn’t have the news.

But our web site had full coverage of the district attorney’s press conference and the early response by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

For each of the first two days of coverage almost a thousand visitors hit our web site, more than double the average number for a typical day. Most of them found our coverage through Twitter and Facebook posts and by logging in directly to our site, (yes we know it’s a clunky URL; we’re working on that).

Today we posted a follow-up story , and the traffic has been equally high.

People wanted to read about this important Catholic news, and they weren’t satisfied with the secular coverage.

They sought out the Catholic perspective on news from a source they have trusted for many years. Now they can find us online and even on their mobile phone: tap us on your cell at

Overall newspaper circulation continues to dwindle and the Catholic press is not immune. But traffic to Catholic news web sites continues to rise. That is true for the Catholic Standard and Times.

It’s also true that this newspaper’s mission to inform, educate and inspire (a three-word tag coined by our former editor, Cardinal John Foley) is as vital today as it was 116 years ago at our founding.