While they were being urged at some of the official sessions to become more “prophetic,” religious editors at the Associated Church Press/Catholic Press Association convention were wondering how to cope with the results of previous prophetic advice. The story many editors were quietly telling was one of declining circulation and falling advertising revenue. Alfred P. Klausler, executive secretary of the ACP, reported a decline over the past year of 1,401,490 in the group’s total circulation, dropping it to 21.6 million. Commenting on the troubles experienced by some of the member publications, Klausler said, “It is always something of a paradox that subscribers to church journals will tolerate and renew subscriptions to secular publications which irritate them but will not by the same token exercise the same toleration in their church journal. There must be greater religious maturity on the part of church people.”

Little that could be called real ecumenism was achieved by this first joint meeting of the two associations. Each side seemed to be operating on its own frequency. The problem was accentuated because many of the Catholic editors represented local diocesan papers published under hierarchical supervision while most Protestant editors represented publications with less geographical limitation and less immediate control. Catholic editors seemed most fearful of hierarchical oppression, while Protestant editors—especially those from denominational journals—were concerned about lay backlash.

One evidence of lay dissatisfaction is the appearance of conservative dissenting journals within the United Methodist, Episcopal, and Presbyterian folds. At least one, the Presbyterian Journal, has apparently prospered at the expense ...

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