Province Newsletter Marks Two Years of E-Publishing

Jocelyn Thomas Features

NEW YORK — The Province’s Communications Office has recently observed two years of the current format of this newsletter.

In September 2005, HNP Today was changed from a paper publication to an electronic publication. Since that time, it has been posted on the Province’s Web site and e-mailed to subscribers, a list that has grown considerably in two years. 

The reformatting was arranged by Jim McIntosh, OFM, a member of the Communications Office (CO) from January 2005 to October 2006, who worked with the Province’s Web master. Jim, who had nine years of professional computer experience, said he knew the ease and benefits of publishing via the Internet.

“Many publications, including The New York Times, serve up both text and color photos, and provide a menu of available articles with short descriptions so viewers can decide which topics they want to read,” Jim said by phone from Bolivia where he is now stationed.

The format change was recommended to the Provincial Administration by Jim after the Provincial Chapter of 2005.  He said the newsletter’s previous two-column, black-and-white, text-only format had become outdated.

“While good for its time, the HNPT format was too old-fashioned for the third millennium,” Jim said.

After considering other alternatives including a glossy color publication, Jim discussed ideas with the Provincial Council for a revised newsletter, and the electronic format was selected.

Cost and Content Benefits

Though the format change was initiated as a cost-saving measure — by eliminating the expense of printing and mailing — the new format also provided other advantages.

Besides giving readers the flexibility of quickly seeing topics contained in each issue, this electronic format offers them:
►  Links to Web sites with information about article topics.
►  Color photos. The few graphics that the previous HNP Today carried were one-color. Many of the photos can be enlarged by a reader’s click.
►  The ability to forward articles to people. In fact, the entire issue can be e-mailed to friends, colleagues, relatives, and other interested people.
►  The ability to easily access past issues of the newsletter. Issues since September 2005 appear in the “Publications” section of the Province’s Web site. 

The e-format offers many benefits to the Province and its Communications Office. Not only is money saved, but the readership can be wide. By appearing on the Internet, the newsletter can be read by people all over the world — both religious and lay. They can learn about the friars and ministries of Holy Name Province.

In addition, the production process allows the HNP Today staff to:
►   Revise text and photos easily. Information can be updated even after the newsletter is distributed.
►   Write as little or as much as needed. Unlike a printed publication, there are no length restrictions to articles.
►   Monitor readership; the staff is able to observe which topics are most widely read.

Readership has increased steadily over these two years. The number of subscribers on the HNP Today e-mail list is approaching 800, up about 25% this year. 

Earlier this month, the Communications Office launched a new method of distributing the newsletter that the CO staff believes assures all subscribers of successfully receiving the publication. Previous technical problems seem to have been solved. Many subscribers who are now receiving the e-letter have contacted the office to say they are pleased to be able to hear from the Province.
Newsletter History
The newsletter HNP Today has existed since 1996, said Cassian Miles, OFM, who served as the Province’s Communications Director from that year to 2005.

The newsletter’s content has always included information about Provincial events and activities of the friars, as well as news about the Province’s parishes, ministries and higher education, and, at times, news of the Franciscan world. The distribution via the Web site has generated an evolution in focus; newsletter articles are now written for an audience beyond the Province.

“We now use the newsletter to communicate both internally and externally,” said  Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM.

Over the past four decades, Holy Name Province has published a variety of newsletters. Its first, called theNewsletter of Holy Name Province, was launched in 1968 by Provincial Minister Finian Kerwin, OFM, and was managed by Provincial Secretary Giles Bello, OFM.

The following year, the format and name were changed by Roy Gasnick, OFM, the Province’s first Communications Director when Holy Name established its Communications Office (CO) in 1969. The Province wanted to create an inviting publication. Over the years, Roy and Cassian, the CO’s assistant, revamped the publication from a monthly piece to a weekly publication which they named This Week. 

Roy said friars liked the timely distribution, as well as the  4.25-inch-by-11-inch format of the publication.

“The narrow size was convenient; readers could put it in their pockets,” he said. “I purposely kept the content as brief and straightforward as possible — focusing on who, what, when, where and why — with little embellishment.”

Cassian, who is still involved with Province communications as a proofreader for HNP Today, said that he was pleased with how “Roy captured the value of communications.”

“Roy very ably served our Province and the Franciscan world,” Cassian said. “I was pleased to assist him. Roy seized the opportunity to use communications to spread the Franciscan message.  We were a model for other Franciscan provinces.”

Holy Name Communications
Over the years, others who served in the communications ministry at various times were Timothy Shreenan, OFM, Peter Fiore, OFM, Allan Von Kobs OFM, and Janet Gianopoulos.

In the days before the newsletter, friars kept abreast of Province news through The Provincial Annals, which began publishing in 1937. Originally printed on a quarterly basis, it is now produced annually and is edited by Julian Davies, OFM.  Now a publication of record, the book contains the major events in the life of each HNP community during the year, as well as obituaries and biographical information about friars celebrating jubilees of their religious lives. Julian lives at Siena College, Loudonville, N.Y., and has worked on the Annals since 1983.

Other internal publications produced by the Province through the years include Information Bulletin, Forum,Closeup, Special Report, Friar Lines, Friar Review, and HNPeople.

Copies of most of these publications are housed in Holy Name’s Provincial archives in Butler, N.J., managed byVincent Grogan, OFM, and assistant, Bernard Creighton, OFM.

The next issue of HNP Today wil be published Jan. 9.  Information submissions from readers are welcome. 

— Jocelyn Thomas is Director of Communications for Holy Name Province; she assumed the position in September 2006. She encourages readers to forward newsletter stories to friends, colleagues and parishioners, and she reminds them that questions and comments are welcomed by the Communications Office.