Beginning in August, The Witness will print biweekly instead of weekly. We will produce 24 issues a year instead of 46. We are making this change for several reasons.
First, in order to follow Jesus’ mandate given to the church to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) we must reach younger audiences. With limited resources, this means doing less of one thing so that we can do more of another. All audiences, indeed, all people, are important to us, and we are strengthening our efforts to reach younger audiences through electronic platforms while continuing to serve the audience that prefers print. A survey of our readers was conducted in 2017. The 300 respondents told us that many subscribers are happy with The Witness. We learned that the print edition primarily serves members of our archdiocese who are 50 and older. We also found evidence to support the idea that to reach younger audiences, we need to branch out into new mediums. To be effective in our ministry, we must dedicate as much time to communicating with the grown children and grandchildren of our print readers as we do to serving our print audience.
The second reason for this change is that costs to produce The Witness have been increasing over the past several years. By adjusting our printing frequency, we will be able to continue providing you with local stories as well as national and international Catholic news and columns without raising our subscription fee. We haven’t raised our fees for over a decade, unlike many other publications. This change will allow us to keep providing you with a good product at a very low price.
We are working to enhance both our print and digital offerings based on the 2017 survey responses. For example, we will be switching to full color on all pages of the print edition at no extra charge and print readers will still have free e-edition access. More exclusive content for subscribers will appear at TheWitnessOnline.org, and we’re working on new endeavors that we will announce soon.
Since the launch of our website, we have grown our online audience from zero to thousands of unique visitors each month. We hope to expand this digital presence while still providing you with a high-quality Catholic publication. We will be publicizing the new schedule in a coming issue.
As we begin a new chapter in our effort to spread the Gospel, we take inspiration from the courage and creativity of those who went before us. Father Samuel Mazzuchelli broke new ground in communication, writing the first known published book in Wisconsin — an 1834 prayer volume in the native Chippewa language.
Mary Francis Clarke, foundress of the BVM Sisters, also came up with new ways of doing things. To properly educate the daughters of miners, trappers and farmers, her first school became a residence, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to accommodate rural pioneer students who traveled long distances to get there.
Archbishop James J. Keane presided over the founding of The Witness. In the first edition, published on Feb. 24, 1921, the staff wrote: “Perhaps many of our friends will say that The Witness enters the field of journalism at an unpropitious time. But the best time for any enterprise is God’s time. … and with faith in Providence, rather than in ourselves or in any human agency, we accept the task.”
We do not face the same challenges as these early innovators. Instead, we have the duty to light fires for Jesus on a new technological frontier. Thank you for your many years of support. We need you with us on this journey. We imagine the sense of adventure those early missionaries must have felt as we now walk down a mysterious trail full of new challenges and fresh opportunities. Trusting in providence, we too accept the task and step forward.