ROME – Not long ago, I was sitting with a journalistic colleague, someone who doesn’t really track Catholic affairs all that closely, who asked why Crux decided to go independent after we parted company with the Boston Globe in April 2016. After all, my colleague said, keeping a news agency going these days is a tough uphill climb.
He didn’t know the half of it, since he’s safely ensconced in a stable gig with a major paper. In truth, in an era of declining readership, shrinking ad dollars and information overload, launching a newly independent operation is a deeply counter-intuitive move.
Yet, I said, I didn’t have an instant’s hesitation, because I believed three things about Crux then, of which I’m even more firmly convinced now.
First, we’re blessed to have a unique constellation of talent, and I wanted to keep the band together. At the time, that meant primarily Inés San Martín and Shannon Levitt, who were the original founders of Crux alongside me. Today we’re still only seven people full-time, but those seven people are just flat-out the best at what they do.
Speaking for myself, any editor who has the chance to work with Levitt, San Martín, Charles Collins, Claire Giangravè, Christopher White, and Elise Harris, and who wouldn’t scratch and claw and bleed to keep that going, doesn’t belong in this business. They’re why we’re consistently among the most-read Catholic news sites in the English language according to traffic data, punching well above our weight.
We also have the chance to work with some of the best partners in the industry, especially our amazing colleagues at “Currents News” in Brooklyn. We’ve also been lucky to team up with the good people at Angelus in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Second, Crux occupies a unique niche on the media landscape. In an era of intense polarization, in which news is crafted to support the ideological positions of different camps, Crux is deliberately non-partisan.
We don’t take sides, we don’t tell people what to think, and we don’t shape our coverage to support any faction or constituency. As best we can, we simply try to tell the truth, without fear or favor and without worrying about whether it serves the interests of liberals or conservatives, people who are pro- or anti- this or that, specific groups or movements, or anybody else.
Third, we’re one of the few outfits in a position to strike the right balance when it comes to coverage of the Catholic Church.
With a few towering exceptions, most secular news outlets are simply too far away from the story to really understand what’s going on – because especially when it comes to Catholicism, it’s not just facts that matter, it’s details too.
On the other hand, many specialized religious news organizations are too close. They’re either on the institutional payroll, or they’re clearly aligned with one or another of the various camps within the Church.
Crux has the chance to be close enough to get the story right, but far enough away to remain objective. We don’t strike that balance perfectly every day, but at least we’re trying.
All of which brings me to the bottom line of this editor’s note: I’m asking for your help.
Producing this kind of journalism isn’t cheap. Aside from salaries, there’s travel (flying on the papal plane alone costs far more than you’d imagine), equipment, IT support for a high-volume, 24/7 web site, subscriptions to major wire services, insurance and legal services, and on and on.
We also don’t charge for our content, because we want our work to reach as wide an audience as possible, including individuals and organizations in various parts of the world who couldn’t afford it were we to erect a paywall.
Crux is lucky to have some faithful advertising clients whose payments offset some of those costs, and we also have the support of our benefactors and partners, chief among them the Knights of Columbus and the DeSales Media Group in the Diocese of Brooklyn. Nothing we do would be possible without their generosity.
However, we also rely on our readers.
This month marks the third anniversary of our independence, and once again I’m appealing to you to support our mission. If you can commit to a monthly contribution of even a few dollars, maybe equivalent to what you’d pay at Starbucks for a latte and a scone, you might not even notice the charge, but it would mean the world to us.
If you can’t commit to a regular payment, even a one-time contribution of whatever you can afford would be hugely appreciated.
Alas, Crux is not a non-profit enterprise, so your contributions aren’t tax-deductible. However, even if the IRS won’t give you credit, you’ll have our undying gratitude and the knowledge that you’re helping keep a unique, and maybe just a little quixotic, news site going strong.
To the extent you can, please be generous … and keep reading Crux!