National Catholic Reporter
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Inside NCR
Issue Date:  May 7, 2004

From the Editor's Desk

More than a pretty facelift

Next week’s issue will look different. Designer Anne Conneen reports that work on the redesign of NCR is reaching its final stages. “The new look of NCR isn’t just a pretty facelift. Changes will be made that make it easier to navigate and friendlier to read,” said Conneen, design editor for the Poynter Institute, a school for journalists in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Actually, the redesign is the result of a long process carried out most intensely over the past year but including conversations over a three-year period among staff, editors and publishers about NCR, its purpose and mission.

Technologically we are generations down the road from the redesign of six years ago. Our Web site has expanded enormously since then and has become a key method for delivering news and commentary, particularly breaking news and daily updates. In addition, use of the Internet for reporting purposes was, by comparison to today, only in its infancy back then. And NCR has expanded materially since then, with bureaus in Rome and Washington and a growing number of correspondents and stringers.

We have included these new elements as they have been added, but ultimately we had to concede to ourselves that in order to more smoothly integrate all of those elements, a new design was necessary. I think you’ll find the new design a seamless integration not only of the newer efforts, but also of the kind of reporting and commentary that has been NCR’s historic mission.

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-- NCR photo/Teresa Malcolm

Isabella, pictured, with a name that, if you could weigh the letters, would probably be heavier than herself, has some characteristics that one would not normally find attractive. She has watery eyes and a somewhat nervous, twitchy disposition. But she’s cute, nonetheless, and even a dog can get away with being somewhat aloof if it fits in the palm of the hand. As NCR’s visiting canine of the week, she’s become everyone’s friend and has nestled quietly, most of the days, in a blanket on the desk of Toni-Ann Ortiz, layout editor and temporary dog-sitter.

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Just before we went to press, John L. Allen Jr. filed a story on his interview with Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who is heading up a bishops’ commission that is studying whether to sanction pro-choice politicians. (See interview.)

We didn’t have room for the entire interview, but the text is available on our Web site. It’s worth the effort, not just for McCarrick’s full comments on the politician issue but also for his remarks on a range of other subjects.

Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister, as we have come to expect, cuts through much of the popular debate to the real threat involved ( see story). She writes that this election “could decide the role of Catholics in both church and state for years to come.”

We’ve also been asked to comment outside our pages. Publisher Tom Fox wrote a piece that appeared in the April 29 issue of USA Today in which he said: “When bishops brand politicians as religiously inadequate because they don’t toe certain political lines with their votes, they, too, cross a dangerous line. In such actions, I see the shades of religious zealotry most Americans find unsettling in other, undemocratic nations.”

Joe Feuerherd, our Washington correspondent, appeared on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and Boston Public Radio’s “On Point.”

-- Tom Roberts

National Catholic Reporter, May 7, 2004

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