The Eastern Oklahoma Catholic, the official newspaper of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tulsa, will change formats after its Sept, 4 issue, and when the Nov. 30th issue arrives in mailboxes, it will be an attractive, full-color 32-page magazine.
“The decision to go to a magazine format was made in the light of overall readership trends,” wrote Bishop Edward J. Slattery to the priests and deacons of the Diocese on June 26.
Bishop Slattery noted that the EOC, which is published under his authority, has been a regular part of the life of the faithful since 1975, but explained,
“Everywhere, newspapers are losing readership while focused magazines continue to grow. A recent readership survey of the EOC revealed that our diocesan newspaper is part of this trend.”
In describing the overall profile of its readers, the Bishop commented that while the EOC had a loyal following, it was highly concentrated among older Catholics. “Eighty percent of our readers go to Mass weekly, but only 24 percent of our readers are under 54 years of age, while 29 percent are 70 years or older.”
Those demographics track newspaper readership nationally. As a result, many newspapers have been forced to cut staff positions or focus dwindling resources on alternate resources, such as the Internet. On the other hand, magazines have shown increasing vitality by providing the kind of in-depth analysis with features and profiles that people expect but rarely find in newspapers.
“The model has shown itself capable of attracting readers in a wide age range, with positive feedback reported even from those under 25,” wrote Bishop Slattery.
The Diocese of Tulsa will increasingly rely on its web site, www.dioceseoftulsa.org, to report news and give nearly instantaneous coverage of events around the Diocese.
“Letters from the Bishop, priest assignments, breaking news and obituaries will be immediately available, and this will give us the chance to use the magazine to comment on their importance and put them into a more in-depth context.”
On June 26, Bishop Slattery signed a contract with FAITH Publishing Service of Lansing, Mich., which has been printing FAITH magazine since 2000. FAITH will design, proofread and mail the new magazine to households in the Diocese of Tulsa as well as provide some columns that deal with parenting and family questions, workplace issues, and questions about the faith.
Most of the magazine’s content, however, will be contributed by the staff of the EOC and will focus on the personal stories of people in the Diocese of Tulsa, which Bishop Slattery said “will be the cornerstone of the magazine.”
Bishop Slattery expressed his gratitude for the generous enthusiasm shown by Saint Francis Health Systems and St. John Medical Center, which have agreed to be sponsors of the magazine, while also contributing articles on various aspects of their health care ministries. “Their support allows us to bridge the gap between between a bi-weekly newspaper and a 32-page, full-color monthly magazine that we can put in the hands of our readers 10 times per year,” he said.