Bishop Richard G. Lennon
friday august 29 2014
Communications study will result in change, including seeking an alternative to the 140-year-old Catholic Universe Bulletin
A number of months ago, the Diocese began a process to evaluate how we do
communications. As you can well appreciate, today everyone is concerned about
receiving and sending information as efficiently and timely as possible. With
so much changing in this field, it is a big task.
Aware of this, I assembled a group of people from the Diocese to help me evaluate our communications. Providentially, simultaneously I received a letter from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops announcing that the Conference was in a position to assist dioceses who were seeking help with communications. Having shared this information with the people I had invited to be on a committee, they were unanimous in recommending that contact be made with the USCCB to investigate what they had to offer.
After several conversations, a decision was made to engage the USCCB. The Conference assigned Dominic Perri, a consultant from Chicago, to help guide the process. Early in 2014, Mr. Perri traveled to our Diocese beginning a relationship with us over six months. He came to Cleveland for a number of visits, speaking with individuals and groups, hearing their experience of communications in the Diocese. The individuals and groups who interacted with Mr. Perri spoke very favorably about the sessions as they felt they were heard in the conversations.
All who were involved spoke about the extensiveness of the issue given, the breadth of communications available today.
On May 19, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Mr. Perri presented his findings relative to the state of communications in our Diocese to those on the committee. The meeting was characterized by lively conversation. The plan had been formulated that Mr. Perri would take what he had prepared and what he had heard at the day-long meeting to work up a report for our consideration.
After several weeks passed, a draft was sent to me for my review. After sitting with the draft, I contacted him and asked for a few minor alterations. Then, in July, the final document was received.
Again, reflecting upon the finished product, I then brought together 10 people to form an implementation committee which would be needed to get the process started.
One of the first issues thought to be addressed was the Catholic Universe Bulletin, to research an alternative to our 140-year-old Diocesan newspaper. Our paper has served our Diocese well over the years, for which we should be grateful and thankful for the dedication of all who have worked for the UB over the years, including all of the present employees.
Two things must be determined: the type of print product that will replace the UB and when the change will occur. The UB will continue publication into 2015, with the new product to debut on a yet-to-be-determined date.
The profound changes in how people receive their information have had a great impact on the effectiveness of a bi-weekly newspaper. Much like its secular counterparts, readership has declined, and there is no indication suggesting the trend will reverse.
The group of people charged with the task of recommending an alternative to the Catholic Universe Bulletin will be looking to not only serve our various Catholic audiences, but also to develop a strategy which respects all technical skill levels and interests.
We are well aware we have the message, the Good News of Jesus Christ; we need to ensure we have the best possible means of proclaiming the message.
Together, all of us committed to this work can realize something very special.
Thank you again for all who have worked for Catholic Universe Bulletin and for all who have supported it.