The editor’s life

I’ve been a Catholic journalist for 18 years now — an editor for 12 of them. One of the most frequent questions I get from friends, family members and new acquaintances is: “What’s it like being the editor of a Catholic newspaper?” (Actually, two newspapers in my case — The Catholic Spirit in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and The Visitor, which I edit for the Diocese of St. Cloud.)

They ask, truly, because they’re not sure what a newspaper editor does these days, much less an editor like me who works for religious publications.

They assume it’s pretty challenging to publish newspapers that aim to serve the entire local Catholic community and not just a particular segment. They ask, “How can you print things that everyone will like all the time?” (Answer: You can’t.)

They think I must lead a pretty frenetic life that can be challenging for my spouse and kids. (Answer: They’re right. And please don’t ask my wife about it. She’s a photographer and graphic designer who works with me at The Catholic Spirit, and she’ll give you an earful about how I need to do a better job of balancing work life and home life.)

They wonder where we get all the story ideas that end up as news and features in our print editions and on our websites. (Answer: Where don’t we get story ideas from. E-mails, phone calls, letters, press releases, news team brainstorm sessions and casual conversations with people we meet every day are great sources for stories.)

In order to give readers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what goes into publishing two biweekly newspapers and the two 24/7 websites associated with them, I’ve decided to post about it on this blog.

What’s new at the newspapers? How do we make decisions about what goes into print and on the web and what doesn’t? What’s it like working at a place where your job is to proclaim daily the good news of Jesus Christ? These are among the topics I’ll address in a few blog posts each week.

To be sure, editing a Catholic newspaper today is challenging on several fronts. But it’s a job — actually, I think of it more as a vocation — that I love to do, otherwise I wouldn’t be in this profession for 18 years and counting. The editor’s chair is also a wonderful vantage point from which to view the life of the church as it unfolds in our parishes, dioceses, nation and world.

I hope you enjoy the insights I’ll be sharing. I also hope you’ll be willing to share your own thoughts by commenting with suggestions, story ideas and other feedback!

About Joe Towalski

Editor of The Catholic Spirit, husband, dad, baseball fan(atic), astronomy buff. Follow me on Twitter @towalskij

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