NZ Catholic to cease publication announces Bishop Lowe

NZ Catholic

New Zealand’s national newspaper NZ Catholic will cease publication at the end of June.

The Catholic Bishop of Auckland, Steve Lowe, confirmed the 27-year old publication’s closure and thanked NZ Catholic readers for their faithful support.

Subscribers are offered refunds for their prepaid subscription.

NZ Catholic’s closure will bring to an end a 150-year tradition of hardcopy national Catholic news media publications.

Old stalwarts like the NZ Tablet (published by the Dunedin diocese) and the Auckland diocese’s Zealandia have long closed.

New publication

NZ Catholic was launched by the Auckland diocese as a new national Catholic newspaper in 1996, after the Zealandia and NZ Tablet closed.

It immediately won the Australasian Catholic Press Association’s award for the best Catholic newspaper in Australasia. Over the following 10 years, it gained more than 50 awards for excellence in content and design.

Its first website won the Australasian Religious Press Association’s top online award for “reinventing the concept of a website for a print publication”.

At its peak the paper had a circulation of over 7000, with six full-time staff as well as part-timers and volunteers.

Currently it has fewer than 1000 subscribers and a staff of four, not all full-timers.

Not sustainable

Lowe – the NZ Catholic publisher – says it is no longer sustainable to publish a printed paper.

A new monthly digital publication with “enhanced use of video” would be developed.

In an article for NZ Catholic’s 20th anniversary, founding editor Pat McCarthy recalled that some predicted it would be a short-lived publication.

He said gloomy predictions about its future were underscored by the deep south’s “Can anything good come out of Auckland?” wariness.

North-South divide

The Dunedin-based Tablet and the Auckland-based Zealandia had been negotiating a possible merger back in the mid-1990s

Talks were underway when the Tablet board decided to cease publication.

Yet the word down south was that the Tablet was forced to fold because the Aucklanders had broken off discussions.

When Auckland closed Zealandia and launched NZ Catholic, McCarthy said many influential Catholics would have agreed with archdiocesan paper Wel-com’s assessment – Auckland diocese had “jumped the gun”.

The NZ Catholic’s first issue stoked the Dunedin-Auckland friction when its lead story reported the decision to move the national seminary, Holy Cross College, from Mosgiel to Auckland.

Dunedin Bishop Len Boyle said that was a blow worse than losing the Ranfurly Shield.

Not surprised

“I believe NZ Catholic has been on borrowed time” McCarthy told CathNews.

“But even with its reduced circulation, it has still been the only regular source of national news coverage within the Church. No one else covers many of its stories.

“The question is: What will replace it — or will Catholics in New Zealand be left without any national source of news about what is happening in their Church?

“To me the solution is to establish a comprehensive online Catholic news service to keep the Catholic community informed.”

McCarthy said he could see two possibilities, but both would require a large amount of capital.


Additional reading

News category: Great reads, New Zealand.

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