My Jesuit superiors tell me that this is one of the main reasons why they chose me as America’s 14th editor in chief. They said at the time that they were looking for an editor who could bridge the gap between an older generation of Catholic writers who came of age with the Second Vatican Council and a younger generation of Catholics whose formative years were largely coterminous with the lifespan of Google. I leave it to you to decide, dear readers, whether I have succeeded in bridging that gap, but this much I can say without hesitation: I am enjoying the challenge!
That is not the case for every magazine editor I know. Some of them embraced the digital revolution uncritically and now begrudge the amount of time they spent chasing clicks instead of reporting and analyzing in depth. A few others have resisted the digital revolution at every stage. True to form, as a Gen Xer, I see things from the middle. At America, we believe in the power of the printed word, but we also refuse to cling to it as if it were a Masada on the outskirts of the digital empire. For us, the digital revolution is a transition not from print to digital per se, but from a mind-set in which we are producing content exclusively for print to one in which we are producing content across multiple platforms, one of which is print. We are not going to stop printing a magazine. Yet even now most of our content is published online, not because it is more affordable to do so, but because a multiplatform approach improves the depth and breadth of our analysis.
Here’s a good example: In recent years, we have published in print numerous articles covering the lives of people living with disabilities. We will continue to that. But nothing we have done in print matches the reach and depth of a recent film about the subject that was produced by our new film division. That five-minute film has already been seen by twice as many people as subscribe to America. That same week, we dedicated our radio show on SiriusXM to the topic, reaching a national audience of tens of thousands more. My point is that rather than being a challenge we begrudgingly accept, the digital revolution is an opportunity we welcome—an opportunity to tell stories and analyze issues from multiple perspectives, using technologies and platforms we could not afford or even imagine before now.
Add to that a growing and talented staff and the most loyal readers in publishing and it’s safe to say that America is entering the most transformative moment in its history. Thanks to you. Thanks be to God.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our friends at the American Bible Society–Catholic Initiatives for supporting this special issue on the Bible, evangelization and digital technology. We are most grateful for their support.