Sad news from the world of Catholic media:
Joseph A. Feuerherd, whose journalism career began as a college intern in the Washington Bureau of the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) and concluded with his service as Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of that award-winning publication, died Thursday morning (May 26) at Casey House, a hospice facility in Rockville, Md. Feuerherd died of metastasized soft tissue sarcoma, a cancer diagnosed in Oct. 2009.
“I made the coffee, sorted mail, answered phones, clipped newspapers — and grabbed whatever reporting assignments I could finagle,” Feuerherd, 48, later wrote of his time as an intern working out of the paper’s small National Press Building office.
His first published bylined article, in 1984, was a short item describing the religious community’s reaction to the US invasion of Grenada. More recently, in a March 2011 column, he praised New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s handling of the controversy surrounding Governor Andrew Cuomo’s personal life. “Dolan, proving that ‘Vatican officials’ are not always ham-handed in their appointments [of bishops and archbishops], handled the situation deftly,” he wrote.
As NCR publisher beginning in Oct. 2008, Feuerherd emphasized the paper’s roots as a vehicle for hard-hitting reporting on the Catholic Church. He long contended that NCR’s editorial independence has been essential to the paper’s success. NCR is the only US newspaper that covers the Catholic Church but is not owned or operated by an entity answerable to Church authority.
Feuerherd expanded NCR’s presence on the Web, launching “NCR Today,” the paper’s popular group blog. Further, he brought on a group of web-based writers, whose contributions resulted in a doubling of the number of visits to the site, now averaging more than 1.5 million visitors monthly, making ncronline.org the most popular US Catholic news website.
Feuerherd wrote recently that NCR is comparable to a “good daily city newspaper reporting the foibles of the mayor and city council as they award the latest garbage contract to a favored vendor.”
My prayers go out to his friends and family, and all those touched by this loss.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him…