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 Today's Take:  NCR's daily Web column
Each weekday over the course of a week, a member of the NCR staff offers a commentary on one or more topics in the news.  It's our way of introducing you to some of the people carrying out the NCR mission of faith and justice based journalism.

April 4, 2003
Vol. 1, No.1



global perspectiveJoin the deepening conversation

  by Tom Roberts, editor of NCR

Welcome to the new edition of NCR Online. NCR has had a presence on the Web since 1996. This new Web site is our latest attempt to match our mission as an independent newsweekly with the ever expanding potential of today’s communications technology.

We hope to use the technology to give you greater and quicker access to more breaking news and commentary from our newsroom and our newsgathering efforts around the world.

Like most publications large and small we have struggled, and continue to wrestle, with how NCR can use new technology as a tool to advance our journalism mission. The newspaper, from its beginnings, has been distinctive for high quality journalism reporting on all the dimensions of the church and the life of faith and how these transform the Catholic community and the larger world. Our mission remains, but the means change with the times. We continue, in the words of the founders, “pressing for as much information as can be had about events and their meaning.”

We perceive our central task to be reporting and explaining, guided by concerns for peace, justice and the integrity of creation. Often that task forces us to see history not only through the lens of those in power, but also from the point of view of those acted upon, to provide a voice for the voiceless and to hold power accountable, whether in church or state.

With this new Web site, we aim to extend our reach. And perhaps our scope. Our founders, a mere 40 years ago, could not have imagined the possibilities that have evolved for both gathering and disseminating news.

You will want to visit this site every day, because some thing will be new here every day. Members of the NCR staff and publishers’ offices will rotate in bringing readers Today’s Take in this spot, with a fresh view each day.

Every week, new columns will appear from regulars John L. Allen Jr., widely recognized as one of the top and most prolific Vatican observers in the world today, in The Word from Rome (Friday), and Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, a refreshing example of independent and courageous thinking among the hierarchy, in The Peace Pulpit (Thursday).

Commentary from around the world by a variety of writers will appear each Wednesday in the Global Perspective spot, and every Tuesday you’ll find a new column by Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister, the well-known author and speaker whose views on world and church will always jolt you to see things and think about things in a new way.

We’ll also be posting more breaking news in condensed form.

One of our challenges is to integrate our print edition and this site in a seamless whole. One concrete way will be with the search engine that is available. It is significant that users will be able to search the entire body of work, print and electronic, all the columns and perspectives, from the same spot. That is truly one of the awesome powers of the Internet.

Stories and editorials from each week’s print edition will be open to the public. For the first few months of this new experiment, most of the Web site content will be open to all. Gradually we will close portions of the site to subscribers only, though the main components on this portion of the page will remain open. It would be wonderful if we had the resources to make it all available for free, but that’s not possible. The investment in newsgathering and editing, in writers and staff to oversee and manage the Web site is considerable. As a not-for-profit, we are not driven by the need to have an ever-increasing pot of money at the end of the day. But we don’t completely escape bottom-line concerns.

We think the Web site in its latest incarnation -- largely the work of Sr. Rita Larivee, our associate publisher -- achieves the balance between providing public access to fresh news, features and points of view with exclusive access reserved for subscribers to the more in-depth reports, columns and other elements of the print version of the paper. Overseeing the day-to-day content of the website is Dennis Coday, who will be assisted in technical matters by Michel Tisdale. Rounding off the support team is Jo Ann Schierhoff who handles customer service.

Again, welcome. Happy exploring. We know you’ll find reporting that doesn’t appear in many other sources, points of view that are refreshingly provocative, and questions that stir thinking and upend presumptions. We hope you’ll stick around to join in and deepen the conversation.

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