Friday, May 25, 2012

Salesian Bulletin Editors from Around the World

Salesian Bulletin Editors
from Around the World
Meet in Rome

If you check From the Eastern Front regularly, you’ll have noticed the lack of a homily for May 20. I was in Rome, or en route, from May 15 to May 20. Here’s a report on what I was up to, condensed from ANS.

The editors of the Salesian Bulletin gathered at Salesian general headquarters in Rome from May 17 to May 19 for their first general conference since May 2009. Representing 41 different editions of the Bulletin, from 5 of the 6 inhabited continents, were 48 editors and other staff members, among them a significant number of lay people. Members of the Communications Department based at GHQ also took part.

Yours truly represented the SB of the U.S., and Fr. Romeo Trottier that of Canada, which is called Carrefour Salesien.
Fr. Romeo, Fr. Filiberto, and Fr. Mike with DB

The general councilor for communication, Fr. Filiberto Gonzalez, opened the proceedings. He recalled some lines of communication policy of the Salesian Congregation, including the importance of the SB, which Don Bosco himself founded, for publicizing what the Salesians are doing and for conveying the Salesian charism to the world at large.

Items to be developed in the course of the meeting start from the program of renovation of the SB launched in 2009, which in view of the continuing evolution of world of communication are still valid today. The 56 editions of the SB in the world enjoy a wide autonomy in relation to geographic, cultural, and historic differences, yet they constitute a single instrument of presentation and dissemination of the Salesian mission and charism. A happy slogan, coined within the last few years, defines this magazine which Don Bosco himself launched as “a window on the Salesian world and a Salesian window on the world.”

On the first day of the meeting Fr. Pascual Chavez, the Rector Major, presided over Mass for the editors. His vicar, Fr. Adriano Bregolin, gave the homily.
After Mass the RM posed with us

Characteristics of the Worldwide Bulletin

Also on the first day some data were presented on the characteristics of the SB at world level, based on a survey of 51 out of the 56 editions of the SB. (The other 5 didn’t respond to the survey.) The analysis provided some significant statistics and brought to light some of the challenges facing everyone.

New editions of the SB still emerge where Salesian presences are more recent or are expanding (Africa, Asia, and Oceania). They remain stable where the presence is historically rooted (the Americas and Europe). Some new languages have appeared, e.g. Vietnamese, Tetum, and Kannada.
Some of the samples that were brought to Rome. Photo by Fr. Jaime Gonzalez of ANS.
Spanish counts the greatest number of editions (12), followed by English (9) and French (6). Some editions are bilingual, including both the U.S. and the Canadian editions.

About half the editions are bimonthly, about ten are monthly, while the remainder have a lower frequency of 2-4 issues a year.

Also the circulation varies significantly, from a few thousand, for the most recently founded editions, to over 4 million annually for the Italian SB (issued 11 times a year). The grand total of the circulation of the SB over the whole world is estimated to be over 8.5 million copies a year.

The contents on offer are varied and balanced, including Salesian spirituality, the young, education, missions, international reflections, local situations, etc. The age range covers the spectrum from young adults to senior citizens in roughly equal cohorts, showing that by and large the SBs suit many tastes.

The work of the SB editors was intense. On Thursday and Friday (May 17-18) there was a series of addresses on various topics, presentations of the experiences of several SBs, group work, and general debates in the meeting room. Besides a renewed attention to continuity and fidelity of the SB to its identity and purpose, following Don Bosco’s inspiration, particular attention was paid to the presence of the SB on the Internet.

At present, the very great majority of the SBs are on-line, but almost always in a static from (e.g. as a PDF). The editors desire to move toward a more interactive presence, through social networking, and secondly, toward the adoption of the latest standards of the semantic Web.

“But we cannot continue thinking of the Salesian Bulletin … as just a ‘traditional’ medium: it needs to evolve,” said Bro. Jesus Garcia from Mexico, who presented the theme “Toward an institutional digital journalism: Challenges and opportunities for the Salesian Bulletin.” He said, “Its readers have evolved, ways of consuming communication products have evolved, whatever the Salesian Bulletin makes possible has evolved ... with Don Bosco and with the times.”

Last Day of Work

The rhythm of work eased up on Saturday morning for a guided visit to L’Osservatore Romano (OR), the Vatican Press, and the Vatican gardens. Fr. Sergio Pellini, superior of the SDB community in the Vatican and director general of the Vatican Press – which publishes OR as well as all the official books of the Vatican – met the visiting editors. Dr. Carlo DiCicco, the deputy editor of the Holy See’s daily newspaper, gave them a talk on its history, organizational structure, and updating process.

Fr. Romeo Trottier next to
stacks of OR fresh off the
The Salesian editors' visit to the Vatican Press was noted by a short article in the May 20 edition of OR (p. 7), with a group photo.

Meeting again in the afternoon, the editors drew some practical conclusions. The next few years will see the SBs committed to several common leading editorial fronts, such as the 27th General Chapter (2014), preparing for the bicentennial of Don Bosco’s birth, Project Europe, and the pilgrimage of our Founder’s relic in Europe.

Regarding digital communication, in the light of some experiences already in action, a further step toward digital communication was recommended, looking to a “Salesian Webulletin,” paying attention to its identity, positioning, relation to the printed edition, and target readership, moving decisively toward the semantic Web in synergy with institutional Web sites.

In their last session the editors do some summing up
The editors of the SB were keen to share the riches of the various editions across the world, looking for increased dialog between them, setting up a net of communication, and, finally, to promote a more intense animation of the Salesians toward greater awareness and spread of the SB.

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