One of the oldest and most trusted names in Catholic media in the United States,…
Lessons in journalism and in life
On July 6, I had the great honor of announcing OSV News, a new Catholic news service, at the Catholic Media Conference in Portland, Oregon. It was a bittersweet moment.
Sweet, for all the obvious reasons. I truly believe that, in the wake of the closure of the domestic operations of Catholic News Service, the Church in the United States needs a new Catholic news agency. I also know that no one else is better able to provide this service than OSV, which means it’s our responsibility to do so. The secular world (and not a few Christians, as well) often think of responsibility as a burden, as something we do only because we have to, and that we are all too happy to set aside as soon as we can.
And yet, for Christians, embracing responsibility can be a source of grace. For my colleagues and me, OSV News gives us the opportunity to extend the mission begun 110 years ago by Father John Francis Noll — the mission that lies at the heart of everything we do every day here at OSV to champion the Catholic Church. There’s great beauty in that, and the promise of happiness in our work, too.
The sweetness was tinged with sadness, though, because an era is coming to a close. That era began in 1920, eight years after the founding of OSV, when CNS was founded. Many of the current staff of CNS were there in Portland, and most or all of the rest were watching on the livestream. They are giants of the Catholic press, mentors and friends to nearly everyone at the conference, many with tens of thousands of bylines and photos over decades of service. Not a single person in that room wanted CNS to end this way.
When CNS leaves off, OSV News will carry on, and everyone involved in this new venture will be ever conscious of the body of work and the high standards set by everyone who worked for CNS. They set a high bar, and it’s going to take great effort to meet it. But, again, for the Christian, there’s grace to be found in work, and beauty and happiness, too.
When I went off to college at Michigan State, my parents bought me a subscription to Our Sunday Visitor. It was the perfect gift: I had been reading this paper since the early 1970s, before I made my first Communion.
When I went on to The Catholic University of America, my subscription followed me there. Along the way I met Greg Erlandson — not in person, of course, but in the pages of the paper. Greg was with OSV for 27 years, from 1989 to 2016, which means that by the time he departed for CNS, I had been reading his words — and absorbing the results of his work as editor and publisher — for over two-thirds of the four decades I had been reading the paper.
I arrived at OSV a little over a year after Greg left, so, unlike many of my colleagues, I never had the opportunity to work for him. But I will always be grateful for what I learned from Greg in the pages of Our Sunday Visitor and in his work at CNS. He set standards of excellence both at OSV and at CNS that will always be a part of Our Sunday Visitor — and now, of OSV News.
I’m finally getting to know Greg in person, as we work together to transfer the platform that CNS built so that we can launch OSV News on it. Understanding my own failings, I know that I’d find it hard to be in Greg’s shoes. That, too, makes this transition bittersweet. But it has also given me the opportunity to continue to learn from Greg — this time, about what it means to be a consummate professional and a perfect Catholic gentleman.
Scott P. Richert is publisher for OSV.