Of Many Things

With this issue, dated Jan. 5, we begin the 200th volume of America. Our first issue bore the date April 17, 1909, and on April 13 this year we will publish a special centennial issue. With the current issue we launch a redesign of the magazine with an updated look. We hope that with our new face America steps into the future even as it remains connected to our past.

Most magazines do a makeover every few years. In our case, it has been a decade since our appearance last changed. That format introduced full-color photos and illustrations as well as the Signs of the Times news section. The new design will include an expanded news section, opening with longer background features or analytical commentary, and a Books & Culture section, which will provide more frequent reviews of film, media and the arts from across the country and around the globe.

James Martin, S.J. , our new culture editor, has gathered a formidable company of critics from a variety of backgrounds as contributors. We will be making a determined effort to escape our New York base and to publish reports and reviews from other regions of the country. We also hope this expanded section will enable us to provide more probing criticism of cultural trends, as seen through the lens of Catholic faith. Patricia Kossmann will continue to serve as our literary editor. With the decline of book reviewing nationwide, we are conscious of the special service our book reviews provide to our readers—and to authors.

We will also be introducing three new columnists: Kyle Kramer, Tom Massaro and John DiIulio. Readers know Mr. Kramer from his recent essays in our pages on spirituality and rural life. He is director of lay programs at Saint Meinrad’s School of Theology, Saint Meinrad, Ind., and a hard-working organic farmer. We look forward to his being our own Wendell Berry, but he will write on a variety of topics, including local church life. Thomas Massaro, S.J., teaches social ethics at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry and is a popular author of books on Catholic social teaching and U.S. public policy. John DiIulio is the Frederick Fox Leadership Professor of Politics, Religion and Civil Society at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a nationally known social policy analyst who was the first director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives.

Our redesign has been led by a team of editors and production staff headed by Matt Malone, S.J., in conjunction with Ken Silvia, a nationally recognized magazine designer, who has been honored by numerous professional organizations, including the New York Art Directors Club, the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education and the American Society of Business and Professional Editors.

Updates in printing technology will enable us to use color throughout the magazine. It will also allow us to provide readers with richer informational graphics. Drawing on developments in digital photography, our newly formatted pages will present sharper, more memorable images in a greater variety of formats. A mix of traditional and contemporary fonts will lend visual interest to our pages, and increased spacing between lines should make for easier reading.

None of this redesign would have beeen possible without the long hours and technical skills of Robert Collins, S.J., our managing editor, and Stephanie Ratcliffe, our design and production specialist, a true artist. Together with Matt Malone, S.J., they will now implement our collective vision.

Matt Malone, S.J. discusses the new design on our podcast. Listen here.

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