Il Salesian Bulletin, a project of renewal and relaunching
Notea: The title above is from the booklet which launched the renewal project in 1998, as is the content below except for the boxes which contain updated comments when we reviewed the whole process of renewal in the light of the SSCS 2.0, or your questions.
1. The Salesian Bulletin is ONE but with different expression due to geographical, cultural and historical diversity, but it is and remains the ONE Salesian Bulletin. This is why we seek criteria for unity within One Institution, One Mission and One SSCS'.
2. There is but ONE editor-in-chief (Don Bosco's Successor) who delegates and entrusts this task to Provincials and Editors in each Province, within one charism, mindset, mission and institution.
3. The SB finds its true meaning within an updated SSCS, involving a communications ecology which has arisen from the Mission carried out by the institution. Everything regarding internal and external institutional communication in the Congregation and the Province is brought together in a plan which is also connected with other projects and bodies in SC.
4. And finally, as part of initial and ongoing formation, there is the sense of participation, belonging and acceptance of who we are and what we do as a Salesian Institution. The SB represents us and gives us visibility within and beyond the Congregation: SF, Church, Society. Unity, a common way of thinking and an intelligent presentation of who we are and what we do becomes essential.
5. The SB is the media image which gives visibility to the institution, charism, Salesian mission... not just a specific work. Rectors distribute it not because they find an article about 'their community' in it, but because it is the Congregation and the mission they find there.
The identity of a magazine is to be found in its editorial policy; the common objective of its various editions can be better pursued precisely by starting from a common editorial policy. Sharing an editorial policy, along with all the requirements of mediation and integration, is a guarantee of convergence through criteria and contents.
So in fact, how are things going in terms of editorial policy and in editorial process for the Bulletins? (because the answer to this influences other practical issues. Having an editorial policy which is a reference point gives the magazine greater security, convergence and possibilities for evaluation when it comes to adjusting to likely changing circumstances. And in fact it would be unthinkable for an editorial policy to have a long life. It needs reviewing every now and again so this particular journalistic product is ever more able to respond to the needs of the times).
Editorial staff and the way things function
- A magazine is alive and has a guarantee of continuity if the editorial arrangements are well organised. This obviously does not mean that things won't work otherwise; but here the question is one of guaranteeing quality, innovation, the ability to meet the expectations of readers as well as guaranteeing adequate dissemination.
The editorial team – how often does it meet?
- Here we think of regularity in terms of a meeting of the team every one, two, three months – at least that often!.
The makeup of the editorial team and its professional aspect
- Does the team have people with preparation in some aspect of journalism?
Writers and 'stringers'
- A magazine does not only have an editorial team but a range of writers and stringers. Are the journalists amongst this group Salesians or members of the SF? Other lay people?
Network of people to provide info
- Other than the usual writers, a magazine needs correspondents, people who offer information that enables you to cover a broad span of information of the kind that concerns the SB
Tools at the disposal of SB editors
- A business type organisation needs appropriate tools, to facilitate efforts. Are you appropriately equipped in this regard? (phones, computers, mobiles...).
Your questions: Limitations in writers and contributors – We have traditionally limited the writers and contributors to the SF and only to them. Do we need to open it up to others? Limitations in themes and topics – Perhaps the SB can expand more as a venue to discuss theological issues for members of the academe as a way of tackling current pastoral concerns pertinent to the SF and to local Church. Writing process/choice of writers – It is difficult to get the best articles on a given topic since many contributors are 'forced' to come up with material to comply. Do we need to ask some professional writers?
In the first survey carried out in 1998 those surveyed indicated that we have to think about financial support (at least most of them did), and were of the opinion that this sort of help was most useful fort SBs that are undergoing a processof renewal (since renewal often requires money) and essential for those who are really struggling financially
But what are the financial items most in need of consideration? The first is more technical in nature but obviously important for any kind of management of a magazine, given that the SB is a kind of business operation, so technical (equipment etc) items are important. A second aspect regards the objectives but is equally important, even though less controllable (e.g. SB as an investment). So we need a few reference points to help us evaluate how things are going and to know how to intervene in particular situations of need.
Costs and proceeds
- What is the cost per copy? Costs involved with posting? What is the annual all-up cost of the SB and especially what is its income, if any? Does the SB Editor actually have this information? BEcause if not it would indicate the risk of compartmentalisation in the SB: those who look after the editing processes only while others see to finance and distribution.
- Good administrative management is based on an ability to draw up budgets and final balance, but this requires an efficient annual reporting process. It can happen that the final balance is out of kilter and quite unforeseen, which could indicate that the budget was not appropriate or financially viable.
SB as an investment
- The SB however, is not an investment just because it seems to have an immediate successful outcome. It should be seen also as an investment whose value cannot be calculated in immediate financially positive terms, but in terms of a whole slew of benefits we can derive at the level of "image", "propaganda" for involving people in good works, for its cultural and educational leadership role: because it is good journalism, offers good ideas, is a journal or mag which is the 'most effective pulpit of all'. Fr Ceria in the Annals of the Society, tells us how Don Bosco thought of this aspect of things. At the beginning there was a fixed subscription of three lire a year, but Don Bosco asked them to drop it.