Church and Communication


Monday, 05 March 2012 08:14

Catholic press uses variety of ways to reach Spanish-speaking Catholics

Catholic press uses variety of ways to reach Spanish-speaking Catholics

Levittown (CNS).- Catholic communicators around the country are working hard to reach out to Spanish-speaking Catholics, who are becoming an ever larger percentage of the Catholic population.

Many dioceses incorporate some Spanish-language material in their diocesan publications, others into their websites and other new-media platforms, and a handful have separate all-Spanish publications designed especially to meet the needs of Latino Catholics.

Tim Walter, executive director of the Catholic Press Association of the U.S. and Canada, said most dioceses are still struggling to find the best way to reach out to Hispanics.

"A Spanish translation of the articles" in the English-language publication on a website or in the publication doesn't necessarily meet the needs of the Hispanic reader, because that doesn't take cultural differences into account, he said; there needs to be content tailored to the needs of the Hispanic community.

Walter added that including Spanish text in a newspaper that is mostly in English has the additional positive effect of acclimating the English-speaking reader to the growing presence of Latinos in the ranks of American Catholics.

In an interview with Catholic News Service, Walter said there are nine Spanish-language newspapers and magazines that are CPA members.

Among the oldest of these, founded in 1977, is the Washington Archdiocese's El Pregonero. Like most of the Spanish-language papers, it is funded by a combination of advertising and an archdiocesan subsidy. Larger than most Spanish diocesan papers, it has a circulation of about 25,000 in the Washington metropolitan area and is published biweekly; most Spanish-language diocesan papers are monthlies with circulations closer to 10,000.

Like several Spanish-language publications, Pregonero is dropped not only at parishes that have Masses in Spanish and Catholic agencies that serve the Spanish-speaking population, but also at grocery and convenience stores, Metro subway and bus stops, sidewalk kiosks and other venues.

The Rochester, N.Y., diocesan El Mensajero Catolico is distributed monthly by a distribution agency for free pick-up at more than 200 sites including coin laundries and supermarkets.

Rocio Rios Nino, editor of El Centinela in the Archdiocese of Portland and the Diocese of Baker in Oregon, said some of their 13,000 monthly copies go to such sites as Spanish grocery stores because farmworkers often have to work on Sundays and aren't able to get to church.

Pregonero editor Rafael Roncal said broad distribution makes it hard to get accurate readership data but he's convinced by the low returns on copies that it is being picked up and read.

Other diocesan Spanish papers also focus their distribution on parishes with Spanish Masses and Catholic agencies, which serve Hispanics. The Archdiocese of Chicago's monthly Spanish newspaper, Chicago Catolico, mails about 16,000 copies monthly in bulk to parishes, 1,000 to schools and about 800 to individual subscribers.

Revista Maryknoll, published by the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, was founded in 1980 and has by far the largest circulation of a U.S. Spanish Catholic publication with a bimonthly press run of 79,000 copies.

Those are distributed free to people who donate to the work of Maryknoll, who may choose to receive either the English-language Maryknoll Magazine or Revista Maryknoll; copies also go to other Maryknoll projects in the U.S. and Latin America. It carries, in Spanish, all the content of Maryknoll magazine and additional Spanish columns.

Karen Franz, editor of both Rochester's Catholic Courier and El Mensajero, echoed other diocesan editors when she said the Spanish-language edition is much more community-oriented, much less "churchy" than the English-language paper.

It focuses on issues such as education reform, health and wellness, and immigration while including coverage of various ethnic religious celebrations, and columns by Bishop Matthew H. Clark and others on Scripture. She noted that advertising revenue has been harder to acquire since the recession and that she now has competition for advertising from other Spanish-language newspapers in the area.

For the Intermountain Catholic of the Diocese of Salt Lake City, the challenge is one of being a distinct minority as Catholics -- the state is home to a majority of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- in a geographically large "mission diocese" where 80 percent of Catholics are Spanish-speaking.

Over the past several years, editor Marie Mischel said, the paper has tried several different ways of incorporating Spanish into the primarily English-language paper, including at one time having the back page set up as a "front page" of a Spanish section.

Currently, she's putting one Spanish article on page one of the paper and then devoting two to four inside pages -- out of a total of 16 or 20 -- to Spanish-language stories.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia reorganized its publications this year, taking the once weekly Catholic Standard & Times to a monthly, mailing about 15,000 issues to paying subscribers and distributing another 60,000 copies through free bulk delivery to parishes. The new Phaith magazine is being mailed monthly free to all 340,000 registered Catholic households in the archdiocese.

Publisher Matthew Gambino said both publications include Spanish content, a practice begun in the Standard & Times around 2003. Advertising supports both, with no archdiocesan subsidy.

While the newspaper includes articles in Spanish that are of special interest to the Hispanic community, the magazine carries a column by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput in both English and Spanish, a column by Gambino in English and Spanish, and a translated version of the magazine's cover story.

In planning the reorganization, Gambino said a Spanish-language publication was considered, but, he said, "we want to integrate our content" rather than segregate it.

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