Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Mar
  • 13

‘Encounter’ campaign promoting increased distribution of newspaper

Posted By March 13, 2014 | 12:41 pm | Lead Story #2
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By Father Paul J. Tougas

The Catholic Free Press has announced a year long campaign to increase the distribution of the diocesan newspaper hoping to reach several thousand more people.
This announcement was made in a letter mailed to pastors this past week asking for their participation in the  campaign to Encounter the Gospel, the World, Each Other. The letter also thanks them for their continued support of the diocesan newspaper.
Every parish receives a number of subscriptions for which they are asked to pay. This quota number is based on the number of parishioners in the particular parish or mission. Parishes try to sell as many subscriptions as they can during February, which is national Catholic Press Month. Whether or not they sell their quota, about 70 percent of the parishes pay their bill in full. This means, however, that there are many subscriptions that are paid for which go unused. This adds up to several thousand copies each week.
The increased distribution campaign, Encounter, is encouraging pastors and parishes to distribute these unused papers free to active parishioners and elsewhere in their communities.
“What caught my attention in the campaign packet was the ability of a parish to distribute free copies that are paid for (by the parish) and unsubscribed. That is a good idea,” said Father Walter J. Riley, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish.
Distributing newspapers to the unsubscribed is not new in some parishes. Often parish and religious education volunteers are sent the paper as a gift from the pastor.
“Oh, yes, we have been sending free copies to non-subscribers for years and people love receiving the CFP and reading it. I receive many comments after Mass from people. I even get thank you notes,” said Msgr. Thomas J. Sullivan, pastor of Christ the King Parish, Worcester.
Father Thomas V. Walsh, pastor of St. John, Guardian of Our Lady Parish in Clinton thought the campaign “was a good way to go about renewing interest in The Catholic Free Press.”
The Catholic Free Press has set a goal of 2,000 new subscriptions for this year. Currently 12,000 papers are printed and nearly 10,000 are sent to individual addresses.
Executive Editor Margaret M. Russell said she hopes these efforts “will help put the 63-year old Catholic paper on solid ground for now and for future years.”
This increased distribution effort comes at a time when the print media everywhere is facing the loss of circulation. Some of that loss comes from an increase in digital media use, she said. The CFP is abreast of this with its website, which includes local stories and stories from Catholic news services; the eEdition, which is an electronic version of the entire newspaper, and mobile access to both.
“Even though we reach thousands of people a month with our electronic offerings, we hope to keep print primary. You can’t have a better evangelization tool than one that arrives in the mailbox of nearly 10,000 households each week,” Mrs. Russell said.
“An individual has to go looking for Catholic news on the internet, but the newspaper on the kitchen table is right there for everyone in the family to see,” she said.
Father Chester J. Misciewicz, pastor of Blessed Sacrament in Worcester, agreed. “The CFP is a good source of diocesan and Catholic news that isn’t available anywhere else. I look forward to it coming each week,” he said.
“The local coverage in the Free Press is fantastic. It is something we would never receive elsewhere. I like the use of many local writers as well,” Msgr Sullivan said.
The increased distribution campaign will not cost parishes that currently pay their quotas anything extra. It does encourage those parishes not fulfilling their quota to use it to increase subscriptions. By introducing the newspaper to people who have not previously received it, it is hoped that it will generate new paid subscriptions. It could also generate subscriptions to the eEdition, the online version, for those who prefer to receive the paper in their electronic in-box rather than their postal mailbox. The subscription price of $30 a year covers 52 issues of a delivered newspaper and/or the online newspaper.
As part of the campaign, some 69 parishes received certificates of appreciation for their years of support and those who filled their quotas were rewarded with a voucher good for $150 in advertising, Mrs. Russell explained.
“Why Christ the King even received an award,” said Msgr. Sullivan with a laugh, “for paying our bill and distributing all our quota papers!”
A Fitchburg pastor said he was pleased to receive the campaign packet and used the advertising voucher right away for the parish’s Lenten Fish Fry.