Editorial: OSV News and the future of Catholic media

3 mins read
Archbishop John Francis Noll and a copy of the first issue of Our Sunday Visitor from May 5, 1912. OSV file photos

From the moment the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced on May 4 that the domestic operations of Catholic News Service would cease at the end of the year, we have been asking ourselves one question. That question wasn’t “Should OSV do something?” but “What should OSV do?”

The answer is OSV News, a brand-new Catholic news service, launching Jan. 1, 2023, on CatholicNews.com, the very platform currently used by CNS. Announced in Portland, Oregon, on July 6 at the annual Catholic Media Conference, OSV News, we believe, is both the obvious and the necessary response to the question.

Obvious, because the 110-year history of OSV began with a similarly innovative approach to the Catholic press. Father John Francis Noll recognized that Catholic readers needed not only the news that other Catholic publications at that time were providing, but also analysis, commentary and resources to feed their faith. From the beginning, Our Sunday Visitor has always been more than a newspaper: It’s a trusted companion for the entire family that literally meets people of every age where they are, at their homes and in their parishes. Indeed, generation after generation of writers, editors and publishers for Our Sunday Visitor were formed and informed by the previous generation of writers, editors and publishers.

The man who would be named an honorary archbishop for his efforts on behalf of Catholic media didn’t rest on his laurels once he created a new type of Catholic publication. Under his leadership, the circulation of Our Sunday Visitor grew to 1 million copies every week. But Archbishop Noll also understood that innovation and collaboration in the Catholic media benefited everyone. He was an early and vocal supporter of CNS, founded eight years after OSV, and of the Catholic Press Association (now known as the Catholic Media Association), founded one year before. Rather than viewing the Catholic press as a zero-sum game, OSV helped dioceses across the country to start up their own diocesan newspapers — and, for years, many of them were printed on the very same press as Our Sunday Visitor, here in our current Huntington, Indiana, headquarters.

Archbishop Noll understood that once readers get a taste for the truth, they grow hungry for more — and the entire Catholic press benefits.

OSV News is also the necessary answer to “What should OSV do?” not only because innovation and collaboration run deep in OSV’s veins, but because we are blessed with both resources and reputation, gained through decades of hard work and dedication to our mission of championing the Church. That trust, that reputation and those resources come with the responsibility to use them all in service to Christ and his Church.

The Church in the United States needs a Catholic news agency that is trusted by the faithful. The Church in the rest of the world needs national Catholic news from the United States. And all of us in the Catholic media need the spirit of innovation and collaboration that is Archbishop Noll’s legacy.

Recent decades have been hard on the Catholic press. Declining circulation, rising costs, Catholics leaving the Church because of scandals and the unrelenting attacks of secular forces against all things Christian but especially against the Church established by Christ himself: All of this, and much more, has sapped the energy and morale of many Catholic journalists who have devoted themselves to the cause of the truth — and have been rewarded with long hours and low salaries. For many of us, the announcement of the end of CNS’s domestic operations felt like the final nail in the coffin of dozens of diocesan publications, and perhaps some national ones as well.

We could not let that happen. For our own publication, with a few strategic hires and a slight change in content, Our Sunday Visitor likely could have survived in a post-CNS world. But there is more to the Catholic press than one publication. To be true to the legacy of Archbishop Noll, we had to dream bigger.

OSV News is not just the latest “product offering” from OSV. It is a concrete symbol of our commitment to collaborate with our fellow members of the Catholic press to bring about a new renaissance in Catholic media — and a brighter future for the Catholic Church in the United States and beyond.

When OSV News succeeds, it will succeed because of the hard work of many people outside of OSV — of the unsung heroes of the Catholic press in every diocese in the United States. It will succeed because of the collaboration of professional organizations like the Catholic Media Association — and their willingness to hold us accountable to the legacy left to us by both Archbishop Noll and by CNS. It will succeed because of content partners who understand that we need more people reading (and viewing, and listening to) more Catholic media, and that all those who produce faithful Catholic content are engaged in the same work of evangelization.

And it will succeed because readers like you will find what you are looking for: the truth for which we all hunger; the truth that sets us free.

Our Sunday Visitor Editorial Board: Gretchen R. Crowe, Scott P. Richert, Scott Warden, York Young

Our Sunday Visitor Editorial Board

The Our Sunday Visitor Editorial Board consists of Father Patrick Briscoe, OP, Gretchen R. Crowe, Matthew Kirby, Scott P. Richert and York Young.