The writer of Ecclesiastes was a man who had clearly spent time contemplating the transitory yet steady nature of time and existence. “What has been is what will be,” he wrote, “and what has been done is what will be done; and there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9). In the parlance of our time, the more things change the more they remain the same.
Yet change is real, even if real change is sometimes hard to define and quantify. Twenty years ago, Catholic World Report was founded in order both to report about the Catholic world and to articulate an orthodox, Catholic perspective within the world. Much has changed since then, especially in the realms of communication and technology. As a result (and to make a long story short) CWR is no longer a print magazine. There is, for all things—including magazines—“a time to be born and a time to die” (Eccl. 3:2).
However, I’m happy to say, in keeping with my use of Ecclesiastes—a book that all scholars agree contains no direct reference to CWR or the information age—CWR has not died, or disappeared, or even taken an open-ended sabbatical. It is alive, right here and right in front of you. The news, analysis, and commentary of CWR is now entirely online. Not only that, its content is free to all readers, including those who question my use of Ecclesiastes in introducing what is somewhat new under the sun!
I say “somewhat” because while the medium has changed, the focus and purpose and goals have not. To borrow from Father David Meconi, S.J., who has just announced that Homiletic & Pastoral Review is also completely and solely online, the “what” and the “why” of CWR are the same; it is the “how” that has changed.
CWR also has a new editor. I take on that title and responsibility with a mixture of trepidation and optimism: trepidation because I am keenly aware of the standard of excellence that CWR has maintained for two decades, and optimism because I think CWR has much to offer its readers in the years to come, and I believe the Internet provides a means of responding to events and news with a flexibility and immediacy not always available with print. As Father Meconi notes, studies indicate that 70 percent of what is read today is accessed in some electronic format. And I suspect that number might even be higher when it comes to news, opinion, and commentary.
A typical print edition of CWR included nine or ten feature articles, interviews, and book reviews, along with editorials, short news pieces, and a column or two. The great strength of CWR, I believe, is the in-depth and exceptional analysis offered in its feature articles. Going forward, two or three feature articles will be posted on the CWR site each week. These will be longer, original pieces about events and persons in the Church and around the world. CWR will also have regular, monthly columns written by a variety of authors who have first-hand, expert knowledge of the issues they address. And the site will also have regular editorials. In addition, news briefs will be available 24/7.
Perhaps the most notable change (other than CWR being on a screen and not on paper) will be the growth of the CWR blog, which will have new posts each day of the working week. The blog will focus on current events, observations on the passing scene, short bits of news analysis, remarks on culture both high and low, and even thoughts theological and philosophical in nature. Although I will continue to write and blog on Insight Scoop, my primary focus will be the CWR blog, where I will be joined by some other folks, including Mark Brumley, president of Ignatius Press, and Catherine Harmon, the managing editor of CWR. As I have been leading a weekly Bible study of Proverbs in my parish (and having blogged for ten years now), I am mindful of the saying, “Wise men lay up knowledge, but the babbling of a fool brings ruin near” (Prov. 10:14). The CWR blog will always seek to share and spread knowledge, and any babbling that appears there will be, I trust, babbling being exposed, not extolled.
Over the next few weeks, there will be further updates about CWR. To stay up-to-date on the latest CWR articles and features, please sign up for our new eNewsletter by clicking here. All you need to do is enter your name and email address—no passwords or usernames required! By signing up for the eNewsletter, you will be notified whenever new articles are posted at www.catholicworldreport.com.
What has been done is what will be done. But there is still much more to do. I hope you will make CWR a regular destination. I welcome your comments and questions, and I also welcome your prayers and support. Thank you!
Carl E. Olson
Editor, Catholic World Report