From June 22-24 in Pittsburgh, PA the Catholic Press Association (CPA) celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding. There was lots of talk about the threats we face from the recession and changing media (think digital and mobile apps!) to lack of respect for the Catholic Church in the wake of the clergy sex-abuse scandal, increasing secularization and inadequate formation in the faith.
But the 370 professionals—reporters and writers, editors and photographers, publishers and general managers, advertising and circulation people—who attended came away renewed in the ability to serve “the social, spiritual and intellectual needs of the entire human family, and to spread and support the Kingdom of God” (our purpose as specified in the constitution and bylaws). I am always renewed in spirit and mind after attending the annual convention.
This was actually a Catholic media convention, which means that, besides print press people, it included members of the Catholic Academy of Communication Arts Professionals (radio/TV and public relations people and diocesan directors of communications). Also, the Association of Roman Catholic Communicators of Canada joined their U.S. counterparts.
The success of the convention can be laid at the feet of Bob Lockwood, diocesan director of communications and general manager of Pittsburgh Catholic, and his staff, and Tim Walter, executive director of the CPA, and his staff.
For me, the convention is an opportunity to see old friends and make new ones among people who care as much about the Church and journalism as I do. It’s a time to listen to experts about Catholic topics and demographic trends of which I need to be aware. It’s workshops about how to write editorials in the spirit of St. Francis de Sales (patron of the Catholic press) and information about new technologies such as iPads, iPhones and Tablets.
It’s a time to share war stories and successes and failures—and discover we’re not alone. Because several of us are competitors as well as colleagues, this sharing calls for a great deal of trust.
And then there’s the affirmation of awards. Since one of the purposes of the CPA is to raise the professional standards of the Catholic press, there is a large journalism competition among Catholic newspapers, magazines, newsletters of various types and Spanish-language publications—and a book competition.
St. Anthony Messenger, its related periodicals, St. Anthony Messenger Press Books and Servant Books received 22 awards this year for work published in 2010:
That list means all but one person on the editorial staff of St. Anthony Messenger and Catholic Update received an award. And since Every Day Catholic won a couple of awards as well, that means the work of newsletter editor Joan McKamey was recognized as well.
But the one person not named did all the work of putting our submissions together and fussed that everything that got electronically uploaded correctly for the competition. She helps deal with out-of-house writers, types the editor’s letters and keeps us all organized. That person is our editorial assistant, Sharon Tomko Greenberg. She deserves our many thanks for all that she does so well.
That’s the thing about awards. They recognize the out-front people but not all the support people who make any publication—or large enterprise—work.
Besides our slew of awards, with what did we come away? Actually, some humility. There’s a whole cadre of dedicated professionals struggling to serve the Church against great odds. Despite the variety of our publications and books, our differences of liberal and conservative bents, of audiences and media formats, we all work at building up the Kingdom of God.
I am proud to have been a part of this effort. I just hope we are meeting your needs as readers. We vow to keep trying.