National Catholic Reporter
The Independent Newsweekly
Inside NCR
Issue Date:  April 30, 2004

From the Editor's Desk

Sprucing up the look

No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks. What’s pictured is this week’s cover done in the model of a new NCR design that will make an official debut in the near future.

It has been six years since the last redesign, one that capitalized on the use of color on our cover and a bolder presentation of our major story with additional “blurbs” on the front cover. One of the major changes of that redesign was coming out from behind the big blocky NCR letters of an earlier generation and more clearly spelling out the full name. NCR is still the popular shorthand for the paper, but National Catholic Reporter is who we are and, as the new “flag” at the top of the page makes clear, independent reporting, the distinctive trait at the founding of the paper, remains so nearly 40 years later.

Change can make us all a little anxious, so I’ll take the chance to ease some anxiety by noting that the redesign is more in the manner of sprucing up than reconstruction. Redoing the favorite rooms that have become shabby from years of beneficial use doesn’t mean blowing the house off its foundations. It means, in the case of NCR, doing the kinds of things that will make the pages friendly to old friends and new readers alike, easier to look at, we hope, and to navigate.

We have been made very aware by the overwhelming response to the surveys we asked you to fill out (and you’ll get a more detailed analysis of that project once all the numbers are crunched and the analysis is done) that there is much about the paper that you like. I want to assure you that the basic elements of NCR will not change, not the independent reporting nor the provocative commentary nor the in-depth looks at issues.

In this era of smash-mouth television, dumbed-down soundbites, quick hits on the news pages and an endless ocean of undifferentiated information on the Internet, NCR’s mission is even clearer than it was at its founding. And we’ll continue to perform that mission -- not perfectly, certainly, but to the best of our ability week to week. We’ll continue to report on the issues facing the church, even those difficult issues that some church officials would rather keep hidden. We’ll do the same in the wider world, paying particular attention to those issues and voices that don’t often show up on the front pages of the mainstream press.

Anne Conneen, design editor of the Poynter Institute of St. Petersburg, Fla., a school for journalists, is the designer we’ve been working with, and the previews we’ve seen so far show an attractive design of understated elegance. More later.

~ ~ ~

The campaign season looms long and tedious in front of us, but leaders in some Catholic circles have lost little time in staking out what they claim is an absolute Catholic position when it comes to voting. The corollary, then, is that for Catholics there is no choice. Any candidate publicly professing an antiabortion position trumps all other candidates and issues. If only it were that simple. Washington writer Joe Feuerherd’s report demonstrates that the political landscape is anything but simple (See Story). Our editorial concludes that good Catholics, intelligently considering the full range of issues and candidates, should not be bound by that single criterion (See Story).

-- Tom Roberts

National Catholic Reporter, April 30, 2004

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