Sed Contra: A Change for the Better

Deal W. Hudson
September 1, 2004

As you’ve probably already noticed, Crisis Magazine has gotten a major face-lift. Not only have we completely redesigned our look, but we’re now full color from cover to cover.

Our reasons are many, but the main one is simple: This is our small way of thanking you for being a faithful Crisis reader.

You see, as I write this, Crisis subscribers now number well over 32,000. To celebrate our continuing growth, we wanted to give Crisis an updated and more attractive look. I hope this new design will provide you added enjoyment and ease in reading. And I also hope the new Crisis look will help us reach the next plateau of growth and influence.

Don’t worry, we’re not raising the price of the magazine, nor is this some trick to get more money out of you. This is simply a free thank-you gift from us to you. I hope you’re as happy with the new look as we are. The fact is, the old style had become cramped and difficult to read. Not only that, but much of our mission is centered on beauty, art, and culture. Our old design wasn’t remotely beautiful. And when we carried stories on art—as we like to do—we’d have to render colorful masterpieces in black and white. It wasn’t fair to our authors, and it wasn’t fair to you.

And so, after almost ten years, we’ve updated our look. With this new design, we’ve gone for a mix of elegance, simplicity, and readability. Please let us know what you think.

Interestingly enough, the color redesign comes with some risk. There are those who think that an attractive, well-designed magazine cannot possibly be a serious publication as well. For these individuals, it seems that intellectual weight must be aesthetically plain. Others may believe—subliminally perhaps—that the new design reflects a softening in our editorial commitment to a strong, orthodox Catholicism.

Let me dispel both concerns. For a magazine to be fully Catholic, in form and content, it must strive not only to speak the truth but also to embody the kind of excellence found through the history of Catholic culture. The new design is another step in the direction of our growth in visual and design excellence. (Recall Hans Urs von Balthasar’s warning that those who pursue their lips at beauty will one day be unable to pray or to love.)

Furthermore, Crisis has no plans to become a picture book. We will always be a reader’s magazine. Our commitment to in-depth commentary and reporting on the culture from a faithful Catholic perspective remains what it was in November of 1982 when Crisis was founded. But now we have the opportunity to make the look of the magazine match the high quality of the content.

A final word: Our growth curve in recent years is due to many factors, but two deserve special mention. Raymond Matthew Wray, my longtime associate publisher, is wholly responsible for the day-to-day decisions concerning the marketing of the magazine, and it’s due to his careful supervision that Crisis has grown so dramatically. Editor Brian Saint-Paul has remade the content of the magazine over the past two years, making it more readable, interesting, and varied. Due to his work we’ve seen an increase in readers renewing the magazine, another factor in continued growth.

The remainder of the Crisis staff—eleven in all—also deserve great thanks: We’re truly blessed with a group of cheerful, talented, and committed people who come together five days a week to bring you our monthly magazine and weekly e-letter. Please remember to pray for all of us and our work. Know that in the heart of Washington, D.C., is a family of writers, editors, designers, and publishers working to create the best Catholic magazine we possibly can.

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