MUENSTER, Sask. — The Prairie Messenger will cease publication May 9. That fact is well-known. The high level of concern that has been expressed about this prompted Regina Archbishop Donald Bolen to convene a meeting of communication representatives from the Regina, Saskatoon, and Prince Albert dioceses and the Saskatoon eparchy.
On April 4 at St. Peters Abbey a brainstorming session was held to determine what can be done to serve the Prairie Messenger community after May 9. It will likely be some form of digital/electronic communication, if the general direction established at the session is any indication.
There was much discussion of the consequences to society in moving away from print toward electronic media, and it was pointed out that printing presses and the distribution of a paper copy are major considerations when everyone is under budget constraints — digital media offer more bang for the buck.
Participants were concerned that holding the paper copy and taking the time to read and absorb the written word is a different and more rewarding gain of knowledge compared to reading on an electronic device. The electronic version fosters a short attention span and supports today’s move to multitasking or task-switching.
There was also concern that moving to a digital copy would lose the generations who don’t use electronic devices; however, others noted there is plenty of evidence available that dedicated print readers are also accessing and using those electronic devices. One participant lamented that Google was turning everyone into dummies.
The conversation moved on to exploring what’s available that would meet the needs of maintaining communication with the Prairie Messenger readership, and the kind of resources required. The possibility of co-operating or partnering with dioceses in other provinces and other publications was also part of the discussion. The meeting determined there was a definite need to encourage local participation in whatever is developed and what resources would be required to accomplish that.
Bolen noted that Saskatchewan bishops would be meeting shortly and they would discuss some of the issues raised at this brainstorming meeting. Diocesan communication officers will discuss some of the ideas presented when they meet with other dioceses and communications officers at a national meeting scheduled for the end of May. Several others were tasked with some research efforts with an expectation to report to the group at its next meeting, tentatively scheduled for some time in June.
“It was an exploratory conversation,” said Bolen after the meeting. “It was also an opportunity to express our gratitude to Abbot Peter (PM editor), the Prairie Messenger writers and staff, and articulate how we have been deeply blessed by them.”