Bad and sad news remains newsworthy and this paper seems to operate on the sunshine principle: exposing ills to the sunlight is the first step to healing.
With that sentence, the judges of the Catholic Press Association summed up why they awarded for the third straight year, and the 15th out of the last 16 years, the honor of first place in the General Excellence category for national newspapers to National Catholic Reporter.
Bad and sad news. I had to think about that. Is that what we cover? Bad? Sad? Let's take a look at what's in our latest print issue, dated June 17-30, 2016. The forever-ongoing clergy sex abuse scandal is certainly bad. And very sad. The ineligibility of women to the priesthood? Yes, I'd put that in both categories.
Much of what we focus on here at NCR is bad and sad, even stories not specifically about the politics or administration of the church. We do find it necessary to stay on top of issues such as poverty, discrimination -- especially against immigrants -- or refugees drowning by the boatload while the social media world wrings its hands over the death of a gorilla (sad, yes, but let's show a little perspective here).
NCR has always intended to shine a light on those dark stories and the church's role in creating them or lack of effort in working to resolve them. But we also like to point that light at those people who are living their faith in positive ways, those stories of hope, those moments of joy.
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For instance, Dan Morris-Young tells the story of Fr. William Treacy, a pioneer of interfaith dialogue who at 97 is still going strong. Melissa Musick Nussbaum's granddaughter adopted a pit bull mix stray out of a prison training program. And, on Page 1, (available online here) we celebrate one year since the release of "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home," Pope Francis' encyclical that has moved many parishes toward action to address climate change.
My predecessor and friend Tom Fox likes to say that NCR provides "the intersection of the news and the Good News." Sometimes that news is sad, sometimes it's bad, and sometimes it's evidence that not all news is bad or sad. We don't aim for any particular emotion, but we do, always, aim for the truth.
And now let me shine the light on Dennis Coday and the NCR editorial team. This is the fourth year that NCR has received the General Excellence award since Dennis became editor in 2012. He deserves congratulations for keeping the string alive.