Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Catholic Times Paper Scam?

I am just asking questions here.

I am not really into the ways of the world, and certainly not of the newspaper industry but after having received a rather curt dismissive note from the editor of the Catholic Times, Mr Kevin Flaherty, I thought I would look at the numbers of his newspapers which we sold here, actually it is 1 or 2 or sometimes no copies a week, yet Total Catholic Publications send us 12 copies every week leaving us with 10 or 11 or even 12 copies, as for The Universe from the same Total Catholic stable they send us 22 copies of which we sell on average only 4 or 5. This seems to have been going on for years.

The Catholic Herald seems to adjusts its deliveries according to sales, but not the Catholic Times or The Universe, they have been sending us what the choose. We are not charged for unsolds, indeed we are asked to distribute the unsold copies free to the sick, though the last thing the sick want is to read these publications so we normally throw them away which in Green Brighton means we have to pay to get rid of them every few months, but it does mean that Total Catholic could claim every copy sent to a parish is distributed. Does anyone know if they do?

I am forced to ask are these two papers claiming vastly inflated circulation figures in order to attract advertising? The Catholic Times I understand claims a circulation of 20,000 but if you go by my parish's figures the actual paying readership they have would be about 2,000. The Universe claims to be the largest selling Catholic paper in the UK but if the figures are in line with the Catholic Times', one does  have to ask if the hard copy circulation is much more than 5 or 6,000.

By accepting much larger numbers of these two papers than are likely to be sold, a priest is complicit in a dreadful waste and an "ecological sin", think of those trees going to waste to produce unwanted newspapers but also parish clergy are actually unwittingly complicit in a possible scam, against unwitting advertisers, who pay for advertising based on wholly inaccurate and inflated circulation figures, if that is so it would be gravely sinful. I am sure this is not the deliberate intention of anyone involved in Total Catholic but is a situation that has simply evolved unnoticed with falling sales figures.

Later today I will ensure there is is no more than a 10% wastage, and I would recommend other priests to do the same and parishioners to question why there might be large quantities of unsold Catholic papers at the backs of their churches.

26 comments:

EFpastor emeritus (Email: Pastoremeritus@aol.com) said...

Good for you, Father.
I understood that ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulation?) figures had to be based on SOLD copies.
If so the advertised figures for the two papers you mention might be accurate. However, if so, it shows how many people are unwittingly complicit in spreading garbage in the name of Catholicism!
I assume the CT got ecclesiastical permission. as required by Canon law, to use the name "Catholic" in its title. I wonder on what grounds did the Bishops allow that. Can anyone indicate how it can be changed? My own view is that it should go out of circulation AGAIN. I have stopped buying it witha view to that end.
Your point about advertisers is interesting. Maybe a note to advertisers with a threat not to purchase their goods if they continue to advertise in such papers would help in the battle against what I genuinely consider to be evil.

BJR said...

Do people actually buy these rags? I thought the standard practice was to scan the pages during a quiet moment at the back of the church.

Andrew said...

We have twenty or thirty copies of the Times left each week, they are recycled but that is still an expense for the parish.

nickbris said...

Shouldn't worry too much about the ecological side of trees being used for paper-making,all trees felled for that purpose are replaced by three others so in a way we are saving the planet.

Not many people know that.

If they had a decent crossword and a racing page sales would soar,if the price was right.

mum6kids said...

I stopped buying the Universe and Catholic Times a long time ago. I wanted a Catholic newspaper to be...well, Catholic.
The magazines were just as bad.
We still buy the Catholic Herald but even that paper finds being completely orthodox a challenge.

In the end the only truly Catholic publications of papers and mags seem to come from America and that one from Australia.
Having said that I've seen some American Catholic-lite guff too. But at least they have Envoy and Women of Grace etc.

Our church also has loads of CT and Uni left over which has to go to recycling.
Perhaps home educators could take some off parish hands for papier mache projects.

Ma Tucker said...

I find it very therapeutic to burn spiritually corrupt and corrupting material. The co2 helps the plants to grow and the fire keeps me mindful of the fires of hell I would face for willfully allowing evil to pollute my home environment.

Richard Collins said...

Father, in the publishing and advertising space world there are circulation figures, based upon sales and then there are readership figures, based on the premise that more than one person may read a copy of the paper.Therefore, circulation may be 10,000 but, if 3 people on average read the publication, publishers can claim a readership of 30,000. Many advertisers are blind to this fact.
I hope and pray that other parish priests follow your example and, for the sake of the environment :), stop taking The Catholic Times and The Universe.

Clare said...

What with unsold copies of the Tablet there must be a lot of new trees having to be planted.

Used to love the National Catholic Register - sadly, nothing in this country equates to it.

Dominic Mary said...

pastor emeritus;
one could, of course, refer those who use the word 'Catholic' in their titles to the appropriate body in the Vatican to have the legitimacy of their continuing claim to it verified . . .

shane said...

The Catholic Times and ~(especially) the Universe are unreadable. The Catholic Herald has also been declining in quality and I have stopped purchasing it.

johnf said...

Father
Insist on Sale or Return. Isn't that the way the newspaper trade usually operates?

Paulinus said...

Thanks for this, Father.

My rabbit needs something to line his poo tray. Problem solved.

umblepie said...

Very interesting post Father,the points you raised should be looked into by the authorities concerned; thank you for airing this. With regard to suitable alternative Catholic reading, I
strongly recommend the 'Catholic', published quarterly by the traditionalist and 'fully in communion with Rome' 'Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer' (FSSR) community,in Orkney. Each issue is accompanied by a substantial booklet of between about 100 and 150 pages, on a wide range of traditional Catholic subject matter. The cost which includes postage is an incredibly modest £20 per annum which includes postage. You can place an order through the FSSR website http://papastronsay.blogspot.com/index.html
A list of the booklets can also be found on their website, and these can be purchased individually. Brian Crowe

pattif said...

I don't see how verifiable figures for Catholic papers sold can be produced. In my parish, there is a box, into which payment for papers, magazines, CTS pamphlets and every other kind of publication goes; there doesn't seem any way of marrying up payment with what it paid for. I would imagine such an arrangement obtains in most churches; even Westminster Cathedral has one box for all papers.

We do total up the unsold papers, etc. each week, in order to have the unsold deducted from the bill, but, although the arrangement is "Sale or Return", we never actually return them. We "return" 6-7 out of 8 Tablets each week, 8+ out of (I think) 12 CTs and 6-8 out of 12 Universes. We sell most CHs - usually 10-12 out of 15 - but we rarely sell out of it unless there is a particularly nice piccy of the Holy Father on the front page, or the headline relates to the latest CES outrage.

Kevin said...

Your comments are very interesting Father, and they seem to confirm suspicions that I have held for a long time. In the past, I have placed adverts in the Catholic Times & Universe, and the response from the adverts has always been pretty poor. However, I have noticed that adverts placed in Catholic journals such as Christian Order, seem to generate a much higher feedback . . . I would never give money to the 'mainstream' Catholic press anymore.

Mummymayhem said...

If you want a really good Catholic magazine to read, and give to others try Love one Another Magazine. You have to get it from the US, but you can order back issues.Google it.

shane said...

What is the significance in Father Michael Clifton styling himself Father Mildew?

EditorCT said...

Father,

Many thanks for this information. I've long suspected that the alleged circulation figures are inflated. Judging on an anecdotal basis, I have never met a single Catholic of the "informed" school who buys these papers. And judging by the response to our boycott call, even fewer will be reading them until Mgr Loftus is given the heave-ho.

In my own case, a kind reader of our newsletter who thinks I need to remain informed of the heresies and errors that abound gifts me his copies every week. They really should carry a health warning: "Dangerous for your spiritual health..."

MartinT said...

The Herald is far and away the best of the bunch. If you simply stopped taking the CT and the Universe, would anyone actually notice? If anyone really wants these papers they can subscribe directly.

For a good read, Inside the Vatican, published in the USA is informative and sound, as well as having some good pictures.

bernadette said...

Well reasoned, Fr Blake. Yes The Catholic Times is among the worst.

I stopped reading it after issues 3or 4.

Most churches refuse to stock the Herald, leaving mnost reasonable Catholics with the mistaken impression that the Current Church is an Oligarchy.


Enter--- the Blogosphere....

bishedwin said...

I have been failing to read the Church Times and the Church of England Newspaper for years. Now it is good to know that in the Ordinariate I shall not have to read any Catholic papers either.

Auricularis said...

I echo umblepie's comments. The FSSR's newspaper (The Catholic) is certainly a good read and spiritually nourishing for all the family, unlike today's purportedly "Catholic" newspapers.

dillydaydream said...

I would be sorry that anyone would be put out of a job in these uncertain times. However, anyone knowing the major advertisers should make them aware of this controversy. I would imagine they would be horrified. Having worked in the industry, I know the advertisers, not the readers, have real pull.

Ernie Skillen said...

I'm sure the CT and Universe will be bust within 10 years. The congregations of all the New Rite parishes I attend consist of the elderly (mostly women) and few children. The demographic profile of the New Church is going to cause the demise of Catholic papers. The Bishops prescribe more of the same medicine that produced the current siyuation so things will not get better any time soon.

Richard said...

According to the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) website, both the Universe and the Catholic Times withdrew from the ABC service in 2003, so the papers' "sales" figures have presumably been unaudited (and not available to the public) since then.

Newspapers that are ABC checked have to separate out their sales into various categories, including "full rate", "subscription" and "reduced rate". Free copies must be excluded.

Fr Ray Blake said...

David< I tend not to publish comments on older posts.