by Father Mark Goldasich
I”ll promise I’ll do better, I promise I’ll do better. . .”
This is my mantra for September. Although it could apply to a number of areas of my life, I’m directing the promise specifically to website activity. Honestly, I’m pitiful there.
For example, my parish launched its new website on Ash Wednesday 2014. I was asked to write a welcome and introduction, which I did . . . and it’s still up there — the exact same one — much to my shame. On my (endless) list of to-dos is to have our 5-year-olds in the kindergarten religious ed class show me how to upload something new to the site. Happily, other parts of the site are well used, maintained and updated . . . just not by me.
So, imagine my distress — I mean, delight — when Anita, our Leaven managing editor, approached me with the idea for a new Leaven website. To my credit, I don’t think that I sobbed more than an hour or two. I have a love/strangle relationship with technology, particularly the Web. While I use it daily, at heart I’m still a hard-copy, paper person.
Someone once said that folks my age are immigrants to the Web, while members of the younger generations are natives. How true. As you’ll read on pages 1 & 5 in this paper, we had young interns at every available desk or table in the Leaven office this summer doing “computery” things. They sat in front of their laptops typing away — earbuds or headphones attached — for hours on end.
One day, I foolishly asked what they were doing. They responded in what I would assume was English, though I didn’t understand a word. So, at the end of most days, I’d smile at the interns, nod encouragingly and thank them for doing their, uh, “thing” (whatever in the heck that was).
Seeing all of the work going into the website, I thought that, as editor, it might be a good idea for me to visit it. My initial impression was: Wow, that’s purdy! I then started to explore the various areas. If you, like me, are a little skittish when on a new website, take heart. By clicking on a particular area, you will not: 1) launch a missile somewhere; or 2) erase all of the information on the site . . . or your computer.
My first lesson was one of patience. As I clicked on the “Nation” tab, nothing happened. So, I clicked on the “World” tab and, again, nothing. As I shook my head in dismay, the stories began to appear. Can you believe I had to wait a whole 5 or 10 seconds for that to happen? Don’t be like me: Click and wait those few seconds for things to load.
Secondly, it was a real treat to see so many pictures on the website. Our photographers do a fantastic job of covering events, but we can only use a few of their photos — sometimes only one — in the actual paper. Seeing lots more photos gives you a better feel of the entire event.
There is so much happening in the church each week, nationally and globally. Unfortunately, we have at most two pages to devote to this news in each issue. And sometimes, because of important local events, the “World” and “Nation” pages get bumped. It’s great now to be able to post more national and international church news on the website, from a source as trusted as Catholic News Service, just about daily.
And then there is the video component of the website. I just watched “Pitching for Priests.” Since I couldn’t be there in person, it was nice to experience the fun in a virtual format.
One of my gripes about the old site was its difficulty in searching the archives. The new website is a master at finding stories from past issues in a convenient way. It was a huge project, but our interns were able to catalog about 10 years of the paper online (so far)! I’ve used it many times already and have not been disappointed.
And, beginning next week — really, I promise — I’ll be doing an audio recording of my column as well. (It should come in handy for any folks battling insomnia.)
Seriously, check out the new website at: www.theleaven.org and tell us what you think about it. Until then, I’m calling in my panel of those 5-year-olds to explain to me what hashtags, Twitter and Instagram are!