A little ‘inside baseball’ about Catholic press awards

| February 16, 2011 | 0 Comments

Across North America right about now, folks who work for Cath­olic newspapers, magazines, web­sites, newsletters and book publishers are leafing through all of their work from 2010.

We do this every year about this time, deciding which of our stories, photos, columns, page designs, even ads, we are going to enter into the annual competition of the Catholic Press Association.

We’re always pushing the deadline, gathering up to the last minute the copies and digital files we’ll send to CPA headquarters in Chicago, where they’ll be forwarded to the judges — this year from the journalism and communications faculties of Loyola University in Chicago and Marquette University in Milwaukee.

Winning awards — being recognized by experts in our field — is really affirming for all of us here at The Catholic Spirit offices behind the Cathedral of St. Paul.

But you probably don’t care.

Readers matter more

From what you tell us throughout the year, you look to us for a handful of things:

» Authoritative information about what the church teaches on the issues that you face in 21st-century life.

» Inspiring stories about people living out their faith, stories that give you hope in this troubled world.

» Practical ideas that might be emulated in your parish, school or ministry.

» Stories, photos, slide shows, videos, podcasts and blogs that bring out the goodness and beauty of things Catholic and just might help you and those you love get to heaven.

» Meaty pieces in print and on the Web that give you something to reflect upon.

Coincidentally, as I sought potential award entries recently, I found I was searching for just those attributes because that’s what I want The Catholic Spirit to deliver, too.

For the top Catholic Press award — General Excellence — a publication must enter three consecutive issues. You can’t just have one super issue and walk away with the prize.

Something for everyone

The three that I chose were published in April and May, and I chose them because they were packed with just the stuff you’ve told us you’re looking for.

Warning: It’s a lengthy list, but stick with me on this. I’ll just give you the major headlines:

» “Pope meets abuse victims, expresses shame, sorrow”

» “Family relies on God, community, each other to create new farm” (part of our “Caring for Creation” series, which included a video of life on a farm near Marine-on-St. Croix)

» “Sisters’ ministries exemplify God’s goodness” (Archbishop Nienstedt’s column)

» “Nine couples say ‘I do’ at Assumption wedding” (Hispanic ministry news, with slide show of more wedding photos on the Web)

» “Convention an opportunity to share practical tips, educational spirit” (coverage of the National Catholic Educational Association annual convention in Minneapolis in 2010)

» “Bishop: Teaching young people is key in marriage battle”

» “Carpenter mixes Gospel values into woodworking skills for kids”

» “Federal judge rules national prayer day unconstitutional”

» “An open letter to parents preparing children for baptism”

» “Take these evangelization tools to your workspace”

» “Businessman-turned-historian preserves Rome’s churches in photos”

» “Pilgrimage for the senses” (travelogue through the Holy Land)

» “Proud to be priests” (excerpts of first-person commentary from 25 priests serving the archdiocese, with full text on the website)

» “Priests we love” (readers’ reasons they value priests they know)

» “Hennepin County schools composting to reduce organic waste”

» “Country music songwriter turns focus on Virgin Mary” (about Randy Albright)

» “Caregiver finds respite and support at St. Therese”

» “Bishops ask parishioners to discuss state budget deficit.”

Here’s a surprise for you

Note the variety in those stories. It’s one of the reasons I thought these three issues from last spring were our best. But let me stop you there.

The stories listed above were from just one of the three issues. The other two issues contain just as many important, informative stories covering just as many different topics. Here are just a few:

» “Religion and science: Neither trumps the other”

» “Arizona misses mark on immigration reform” (an editorial)

» “St. Bernard prepares for final act with last school play”

» “U of M offensive tackle defends unborn”

» “Fighting poverty requires public and private partnership.”

OK, I’ll stop. But there are dozens more.

Those issues, by the way, carried our annual Salute to Grads and a special pull-out section with interviews of the men who would be ordained that year — with bonus coverage on TheCatholicSpirit.com that we didn’t have room to print.

None of which guarantees, of course, that we’ll win any awards or once again finish in the top three among large-circulation diocesan newspapers, as we have for the past six years, four of those as No. 1.

But the stories and photos in those three issues do meet the high expectations you have for a Catholic publication that comes into your home.

That’s what really makes The Catholic Spirit a winner.

Awards from Catholic journalism judges are simply icing on the cake.

Bob Zyskowski is associate publisher/general manager of The Catholic Spirit. Write to him at zyskowskir@archspm.org .

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