Pro-life publication newspaper ponders its future

By  Mike Mastromatteo, Catholic Register Special
  • February 19, 2008

{mosimage}TORONTO - Officials with the Toronto-based Interim newspaper are mulling over the future direction of the pro-life publication, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2008.

A Feb. 7 workshop, held at Blessed Trinity Church in Toronto, was dedicated to taking stock of the Interim’s accomplishments and generating ideas for the future.

The Interim was established in 1983 in response to what pro-life leaders of the day saw as a deliberate blackout of pro-life, pro-family news on the part of the mainstream media. The telling blow was a decision by Toronto newspapers and news outlets in 1983 to ignore the first Canadian visit of Dr. Bernard Nathanson, founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League. Nathanson was invited to discuss his rejection of abortion and his conversion to pro-life ideals.

“It is truly amazing that this paper is still running 25 years after it first reported on the presentation of Dr. Nathanson here in Canada, which the mainstream media just ignored,” said Jim Hughes of Campaign Life Coalition. “For a quarter-century, the Interim has been reporting on events and trends that many in the media would rather ignore.”

Hughes was the first of eight editors overseeing production of the Interim since its first edition. Previous editors have included the late Carl Scarfe, Sabina McLuhan and Fr. Alphonse de Valk, now editor of Catholic Insight magazine.

The Interim has survived financial hardship, limited editorial resources and related growing pains to emerge as an important source of pro-life news and information across Canada.

The very name of the monthly newspaper was chosen to encourage supporters to continue the struggle until federal laws dedicated to the full protection of the unborn child are firmly in place. While that objective seems even more remote today than in 1983, Interim supporters believe they have succeeded in positioning it as the pro-life publication of record in Canada.

Since its original emphasis on the abortion issue, the Interim has expanded its focus to include euthanasia, gay marriage, contraception, United Nations population control efforts, bioethics issues, media bias and the efforts to expunge religion and traditional morality from the public discourse of ideas.

The paper has a monthly circulation hovering around 19,500 readers across Canada, and while it features some paid advertising, it relies heavily on the financial backing of Campaign Life. Securing adequate financial support was one of the key items up for discussion at the workshop.

An ongoing concern is its reputation as an overly political or single issue newspaper, which inhibits support from some Catholic pastors. Ironically, the paper also suffers from a perception that it is a religious publication with an appeal limited primarily to orthodox Catholics and some evangelical Christian groups.

Workshop participants also voiced concerned that the paper has little appeal outside Ontario, and that it lacks the resources to obtain compelling content from other Canadian provinces.

Like secular newspapers, the Interim must also contend with the rise of online and web-based news and information. The Interim recently enhanced its web site at www.theinterim.ca but it is struggling with such questions as how much content to put online, and the impact that a fully up-to-date web site might have on paid subscriptions.

Despite these web site concerns, the Interim’s communications work has been supplemented with the rise of the online Lifesite news service, established in 1998. Although separate entities, the Interim and Lifesite often share news and story ideas.

Editor Paul Tuns believes that in addition to an enhanced online presence, the Interim will always exist in paper form.

“Considering that many pro-lifers are veterans of the movement, a paper version is vital to educate and activate pro-lifers,” he said. “At the same time, pro-life youth are on the Internet and we must find new ways to engage them.”

Officials with the Interim and Campaign Life Coalition have organized an April 10 banquet in Toronto to mark the newspaper’s 25 years of service to the pro-life community.

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