Tabloid look is next for Catholic Review Redesign: The Catholic Review is changing to tabloid format next week. The Baltimore Jewish Times has also been redesigned.

September 26, 1998|By John Rivera | John Rivera,SUN STAFF

The Catholic Review, the august weekly newspaper of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, is undergoing a journalistic reformation.

The newspaper, which since its founding in 1913 has been printed as a traditional, full-size broadsheet, will be converted next week to a magazine-like tabloid format.

Editor Daniel L. Medinger said the changes have been contemplated over the last five years by the board of directors of the Cathedral Foundation, which publishes the Catholic Review, Maryland's largest paid weekly newspaper, with a circulation of 68,000.

"There's a great sense of history of the Catholic Review as a broadsheet newspaper and I didn't want to make that change lightly," he said.

The redesigned newspaper will be an 11-by-15-inch tabloid, with a heavy stock paper cover that features a large color photograph. Inside, the type will be larger and there will be 16 pages printed in color, compared with the current four, Medinger said.

The Catholic Review is not the only religious publication with a new look. Earlier this month, the Baltimore Jewish Times unveiled its own redesign, which features a smaller logo and revamped typeface on the cover. Inside, the type has been enlarged, the layout changed from five columns to four and each column has a ragged right edge, instead of the traditional justified straight edge.

"The stories now are shorter and crisper," said Andrew A. Buerger, publisher. "We've given away some line count to information boxes, graphics and photographs." The content of the Baltimore Jewish Times, which has paid circulation of 20,000, has also been rearranged, Buerger said.

"Before, we put Baltimore news first," he said. "And now we're putting the most prominent news stories first," no matter where they originate.

And they moved the opinion section, which had been in the front, to the center of the publication, after the news stories. "We didn't think it was right for us to be commenting on the news before people read about it," Buerger said.

At the Catholic Review, Medinger said, the old broadsheet format was confusing to readers and advertisers. "In some ways I don't think the advertising community understood the old Catholic Review," Medinger said. "We looked like a daily newspaper. We looked like The Baltimore Sun, but we're not The Baltimore Sun. We're a community newspaper that serves a very special niche.

"If you look at community newspapers, they're all tabloid size," he said.

Managing Editor Christopher Gaul said he was a bit wistful about abandoning the traditional newspaper look. "I just have a personal feeling of nostalgia for the broadsheet," he said. But the tabloid will have its advantages.

"I think, editorially, it challenges us to write tighter and more clearly," he said. Besides, "with more of a magazine look, it can sit on the coffee table, and, hopefully, people can pick it up several times over the next few days. It's not likely to hit the trash can as fast."

The new Catholic Review is the latest project of the Cathedral Foundation, which over the past several years has become one of the fastest growing Catholic communications companies. In 1994, it started the Cathedral Foundation Press, which has published more than a dozen books dealing with theology, spirituality, poetry, history and religious education. Since 1996, it has published Catholic International magazine, a newsmagazine focusing on the global Catholic church that is read in more than 100 countries.

In January, it began printing the English edition of L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's newspaper. "It was the first time the Holy See has allowed their newspaper to be published outside of Italy," Medinger said.

And in June, during a trip to Rome, Medinger persuaded the Vatican to allow publication of L'Osservatore Romano in color. Medinger said that breakthrough is symbolic of the impact the Cathedral Foundation is having on Catholic communications.

"When the L'Osservatore Romano starts coming out in color, this organization, the Cathedral Foundation, can take credit for having a positive influence on how the Holy Father's views are going to be presented in the first world," he said. "And that's something to be proud of. So it's more than just a business. It's a lot of mission."

Pub Date: 9/26/98

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