The Miscellany celebrates Catholic Press Month

by Nancy Schwerin

CHARLESTON — In honor of February’s designation as Catholic Press Month, the staff members of The Catholic Miscellany decided to turn the spotlight on themselves.

Publishing The Miscellany could seem like tedious work, going through the same process each week like clockwork. On the contrary, it’s anything but monotonous. The depths of the Catholic faith know no bounds, so the staff quite literally learns something new each day.

The Catholic Miscellany is the successor to The U.S. Catholic Miscellany, the first Catholic newspaper in the United States. Bishop John England founded the paper in 1822 as a means of educating people about the Catholic faith. During this period in America, Catholicism was often misunderstood. This process of education remains a challenge 183 years later.

As a publication of the Catholic Church in South Carolina, The Miscellany portrays Bishop Robert J. Baker’s vision for the church, and Bishop Baker, in turn, reflects the Holy Father’s vision for universal Catholicism.

So each week the staff sets out to convey these visions to their readers.

Monday and Tuesday are production days at the Miscellany office on Broad Street. These days are filled with combining stories with photos and graphics to create a reader-friendly newspaper. The text of the newspaper consists of stories written by staff and freelance writers, press releases, commentary, and stories from Catholic News Service.

Catholic News Service is a wire service with a focus on the Catholic perspective. The organization falls under the auspices of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. It provides the most up-to-date information about the Catholic world. The Miscellany editor keeps a close eye on the wire service in order to keep readers in touch with the Catholic world outside of the South Carolina.

Many of the photos in The Miscellany also come from Catholic News Service. Other photos are taken by the staff or sent in by readers. We frequently receive more photos than we can print. (Tips for good photos and stories are in the sidebar accompanying this article.)

The editor decides which stories will run and assigns pages for each staff member to design. Typically, the local, commentary and worship pages are laid out by the assistant editor, the graphic designer does the front page and center layout, and the editor puts together the nation, world and People & Events pages.

Creating pages includes editing text, choosing photos and graphics, and using a desktop publishing program to design the pages. The staff proofreads all of the pages on Tuesdays. The newspaper’s theological consultant reviews the issue on Tuesday afternoons.

On Wednesday mornings the pages are transferred to templates and given a final proofing by the staff. After any last-minute changes are made , the editor sends the paper via the Internet to a site linked to the Georgetown Times, where The Miscellany is printed. The next morning a mail house, Precision Mailing, picks up the newspapers in Georgetown and takes them to its office in North Charleston. The newspapers are mailed Thursday afternoon from this location.

The circulation coordinator continually updates the list of subscribers, which totals about 28,000 households. The circulation list is updated the first of each month with the mail house.

To get the ball rolling for each issue, stories and ideas are discussed the Wednesday before production. The staff meets briefly, and the following days are used to plan, write, gather material for the next week’s issue, and respond to readers’ calls, e-mails and letters.

In its weekly endeavors, The Miscellany staff strives to produce a quality product that brings the world of Catholicism to South Carolinians.