“These are days of change within the Church and in order that we may reflect these changes, this paper must change also.” Those words caught my eye as I rummaged through our archives last week. On a yellowing page dated November 19 1965, the paper explained why it was introducing a host of innovations, including the first touches of colour.
“The Church is now looking outside herself, opening herself to the world, listening to man’s needs and learning from man’s insights,” it said. “This is why the Catholic Herald is changing, adapting the latest printing techniques, improving its presentation, pioneering new journalistic methods.”
The article was written at the end of the Second Vatican Council under the editorship of Desmond Fisher (who at 94 remains a formidable analyst of Church affairs). I found the editorial both disconcerting and reassuring.
I was disconcerted, because the arguments for change were essentially the same as those in my article last month explaining why we are becoming a magazine. I was reassured, because I realised that throughout our 126-year history we have adapted constantly to changing conditions.
At the risk of sounding pretentious, the Catholic Herald has embodied the maxim found in the great novel The Leopard: “If you want the thing to stay the same you have to change everything.”
That Catholic Herald editorial, written 49 years ago, also expressed the deep respect we, too, feel for our readers as we prepare to move to a new format. “These changes,” it said, “however
drastic, are, in a sense, only superficial. For basically the Catholic Herald will remain what it always has been – a paper which treats its readers as intelligent persons, recognises that they are entitled to know what is going on, brings them significant news and comment.” Amen to that.
I leave you with some good news. We have decided that the Catholic Herald magazine will be available at an introductory price of £1.50. The magazine will cost more to produce than the newspaper, so our cover price has to be set at £2. But our introductory offer will run at least until Lent 2015.
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