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Issue Date:  November 26, 2004

-- NCR Photo

Thomas C. Fox
Fox to step down as NCR publisher


Thomas C. Fox, publisher of the National Catholic Reporter Publishing Co., has announced his resignation from the post he has held for the past eight years.

Fox, whose resignation becomes effective Jan. 1, notified Patrick Waide, chairman of the NCR board, on Sept. 29 of his intent to step down, saying, “Seeing from my unique vantage point where we are headed, and with a great sense of confidence in the future, I can say to you that it is the right time I move aside as publisher.”

He added, “There is no single reason for my discernment at this time. It has been part of a process and has to do with both professional and personal reasons.”

The board of directors, meeting Nov. 13 in Washington, D.C., accepted Fox’s resignation and named associate publisher Rita Larivee, a member of the Sisters of St. Anne, acting publisher. Fox’s career at NCR spans 25 years, including 17 as editor, the longest tenure of any editor in the paper’s 40-year history.

The 60-year-old Fox said he would entertain some future involvement with the publishing company, but would take a six-month “sabbatical” before engaging in any further discussions on that point.

“He will be clearly missed,” said Waide. “Tom had a tremendous effect on the development of the paper during his time as editor, and in more recent years, no one could tell the NCR story better than Tom. We are clearly grateful that he has been the publisher these many years because we know that his greatest desire is to write about peace and justice issues, as well as to bring to the hierarchy and laity a greater understanding of the church in Asia.”

Fox, who wrote Pentecost in Asia: A New Way of Being Church, (Orbis, 2002), has written extensively about the Asian church for NCR and has attended a number of meetings of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences.

Fox began his tenure as publisher by making some difficult decisions about downsizing and streamlining the company. The moves included selling Credence Cassettes, a division that produced instructional and inspirational tapes, and selling the Sheed and Ward book publishing imprint.

At the same time, he began an aggressive fundraising campaign aimed at establishing an endowment to secure NCR’s future. Fox re-established the spot of Vatican correspondent by opening a Rome bureau staffed by John L. Allen Jr., and he reopened the Washington office, staffed by Joe Feuerherd. He also secured funding to add a new dimension -- health care coverage -- to the paper’s regular offerings.

Under his direction the company’s newsletters -- Caring Community, Eucharistic Minister, Catechist Connection and Celebration, an ecumenical worship resource -- were updated and redesigned.

During his tenure, extensive improvements were made to the NCR building, including the installation of infrastructure that advanced the paper in the age of online publishing as well as online newsgathering.

Fox said in his letter, “The 40th anniversary will allow us to consider the future even as we pause to celebrate the considerable successes of these past four decades. We should be proud that we have maintained our integrity as a newsweekly, as a Catholic voice, in difficult times. We have not been afraid to challenge authority when necessary.”

While the last third of Fox’s career at NCR was as publisher, he is a reporter at heart, and remained deeply interested in the paper’s mission as an independent source of news in the church.

Under his editorial leadership from 1980 to 1997, the paper reported extensively on the nuclear arms race, poverty in the developing world and on the vicious civil wars raging throughout Latin America. In the United States, NCR was the first paper to run a national story about the clergy sex abuse crisis.

Fox’s first byline appeared in NCR in 1966, when he wrote a story from Vietnam, where he served as a volunteer aiding displaced Vietnamese from 1966-68, the year he began studying at Yale University for a master’s degree in Southeast Asian studies.

He returned to Vietnam as a journalist and wrote for The New York Times and TIME magazine in addition to NCR. He also met Kim Hoa, who was then working for the Committee of Responsibility, caring for war-injured children. They married in 1971 and returned to the United States the following year. The couple lives in Roeland Park, Kan. They have three grown children.

National Catholic Reporter, November 26, 2004

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