The Long Island Catholic, a 50-year-old institution that considered itself among the best diocesan newspapers in the country, is ceasing weekly publication because of financial troubles and will become a monthly magazine, church officials said Wednesday.
The weekly newspaper will publish its final edition next week, while the magazine under the same name will be launched Dec. 3, said Sean Dolan, spokesman for the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
"The newspaper has a rich history and has served our Catholic faithful and business community for more than 50 years," Dolan said. But the paper was costing the diocese hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual subsidies, he said, adding that "many newspapers reach the point where reduced revenues and increased production costs force publications to close."
The diocese mails out about 100,000 copies of the paper each week, but only about 22,000 recipients were paying for it. "You can only do that for so long," Dolan said.
Decreased advertising revenue also hurt the paper, he said.
The eight-member staff based in Roosevelt will be cut to three to serve the magazine: an editor, Rick Hinshaw, current editor of the newspaper, and two advertising workers. The newspaper staff has been steadily reduced over the last few years -- a year ago there were 18 employees, Dolan said.
The new magazine will have local news, faith stories and columnists already featured in the newspaper, along with "new, popular national columns," Dolan said.
The change, he said, will go beyond moving from newsprint to glossy paper.
"The content will change as well. The magazine will be more formational than informational by focusing on individual faith stories from Long Island Catholics," the diocese said in a statement. "It will highlight the benefits of being Catholic and explore Catholic faith and spirituality. Columns on parenting and work will help Catholics apply their faith to everyday life."
Dolan said more than 20 dioceses in the United States have replaced their weekly newspapers with monthly magazines, and asserted that the model has been successful.
One former reporter at the paper, Lena Pennino, said she was excited by the magazine format but concerned that cuts to staff and financing could hurt the new publication's ability to cover the church on Long Island.
"There have already been huge cuts to the paper," she said. More staff reductions "will be really regrettable."