During my time at The Forum newspaper, sharing the "what I've been up to lately" came fairly easily. Write story, share story, done. But in my newer role as editor and communications director for the Fargo Diocese, the ways I spend my days have become, from the outside, a bit more elusive. And yet my days are every bit as much filled now as then.
So just what have I been up to in the last four months since accepting the position of communications director and editor?
I spend about 50 percent of my time receiving submissions, editing and writing pieces for our monthly diocesan newspaper, "New Earth." That includes photos and text. It also includes coming up with a plan. What will the cover story be? Which of the other pieces will be the most prominent? Which stories will end up in color, and which in black and white? How many pages will each issue include? How much local, and how much national? Which things have to be held and which can make it into the current round?
Skipping ahead a bit, here's the "ta da!" of this month's paper:
The cover featured two pieces on a soon-to-be saint, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha.
And the editorial page...
This issue ended up at 20 pages. You can read it in its entirety digitally here.
Our diocese also launched a new website just about the time I came aboard. We've been getting some nice comments about it.
We also do social media to reach out.
I, along with my communications assistant, Katie, am largely responsible for the content of all of these, not to mention the wording of press releases and many other communications pieces send forth from the diocese.
Each month seems to comprise a million details. And as each day gets closer to deadline day, our focus narrows. I look over each inch of our paper, with Katie as my second set of eyes. On production days before the paper reaches homes, we are very busy going over pdfs of pages laid out by the Catholic Spirit folks in St. Paul. After checking each story and ad with a fine-tooth comb, we give the final "A-Okay."
Here's an example of the final details, taken from an email exchange from Katie and I that we sent to St. Paul in the final hours of the October issue, guiding them on which spots need changes:
Page 10: Love now or live…
- Headline: Add her last name, Ilibagiza, if there’s room.
- In the cutline, we can’t see the Rosary beads the way it was cropped. So change the beginning to this:
- Fresh from a trip to Rome, where she received a blessing from the Pope and some new, colorful Rosary beads, Immaculee…
- On second reference in the cutline, use “Immaculee” rather than Ilibagiza to stay consistent with text in editorial
Page 11: From Grafton to…
- - In pull quote: Add a period after Africa.
- - Second cutline: Start with “Herding captured…” (The rest is stated elsewhere…)
- - 1st column, 5th paragraph, 4th line: at “to” so it reads “A parishioner connected him to Immaculee’s…”
- - 2nd column, final line, change “help” to “assistance” to avoid redundancy…
- - 3rd column, 3rd line: Change to “started by a local priest…” .
- - 3rd column, 3rd paragraph: Capitalize Mass
- - Tag at very end, add: “…one of her upcoming pilgrimages…”
It's a time of high energy and lots of back-and-forth between us and the good people in St. Paul. I find the collaboration very fulfilling, even if stressful at times. After the final check-off, we all exhale, then, after maybe a day -- okay, a few hours -- of celebrating, get ready to do it all over again for the next issue.
The other 50 percent of what I do won't get as much time in the limelight: filling out expense forms, making decisions about finances, signing time sheets, and communicating with the Catholic faithful of our diocese. Occasionally, I receive calls or emails from members of the media, too, which brings me back out in the public forum somewhat, though still mostly in a behind-the-scenes kind of way.
I'm still getting the hang of everything, trying to figure out the best way to juggle my new responsibilities with the many that go with being a mom of five. But so far, I enjoy the diocesan environment. Being able to bring my faith convictions to work is tremendously freeing. And though much of what I do won't find its way into the public sphere as widely as it once did, I feel richly rewarded knowing I'm helping, in my small way, build up the Body of Christ.
I look forward to hearing what you've been up to lately as well.
Q4U: What constitutes your "ta da!" these days?