Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker

Piehl, Mel

An enduring voice & vocation DOBOTHY DAT AND THE CATHOLIC WORKER Nancy L. Roberts State University of New York, $36.50, $12.95 paper, 226 pp. Mel Piehl JOURNALISTICALLY as well as...

...This tremendous output depended not only on her legendary capacity for hard work, but on an old-time journalist's skills...
...Especially in the early days, she "chose the news, wrote the copy, and composed the editorials," eventually chalking up, by Roberts' count, more than a thousand signed essays, articles, and reviews, plus more to which she did not attach her name...
...One of her editors in the thirties and forties "often observed Day at the printer's where, he remembered, 'if we were short of copy, she'd pound out copy to fill the space...
...Anthony's Messenger...
...But Roberts also points out that, unlike most advocacy journalism, the Catholic Worker did not sacrifice moral or intellectual standards in order to promote its causes, and emphasized positive solutions to social problems rather than simply negative protest...
...In its conclusion on the Catholic Worker's place in journalism, as elsewhere, the book tends to slight other features of the movement...
...She was like a machine gun she could write just like that.'" Although she is now better known for pther things, Roberts correctly points out that Dorothy Day was first of all a journalist, and that she always considered writing her primary vocation...
...Roberts is aware that the Catholic Worker is more than a paper, but her focus sometimes leads to a greater concern with the method of presenting the CW's ideas than with their content...
...Happily, it is still going on...
...Mel Piehl JOURNALISTICALLY as well as ideologically the Catholic Worker has been a blend of The Masses, I.F...
...While there have naturally been some topical variations with the times, the mix of social justice reporting, pacifism, personal and movement writing, and spiritual material has remained more or less the same, and seems to exert much the same appeal on the Catholic Worker's 100,000 current readers...
...There's enough bitterness, anger and sarcasm in the world,' Day told Bethune, 'without emphasizing it.'" Dorothy Day's ability to avoid the typical pitfalls of advocacy journalism helped create a unique publication that somehow combined a broad interest in social questions, the everyday concerns of its writers and readers, and an emphasis on Catholic thought and tradition...
...By carrying the story up to the present day, Roberts also stresses the continuity of the Catholic Worker since the death of Dorothy Day (though a recent decision to use a computer in mailing the paper has prompted a typical Catholic Worker discussion of technology and justice...
...That is the major conclusion of this study of the little monthly paper, price 10, that has had such an extraordinary impact on American Catholicism and on many outside the church as well...
...Stone's Weekly, Commonweal, The Wanderer, and St...
...Nancy Roberts, a journalism professor at the University of Minnesota, recounts the basic Catholic Worker story, but with attention focused primarily on the CW's monthly tabloid, and on Dorothy Day's role as its longtime editor...
...The book 3 May 1985: 285 does a fine job of locating Day and the Catholic Worker within the tradition of "advocacy journalism" that runs backward from the thirties' labor journalism through the muckrakers to idiosyncratic nineteenth-century editors, and forward to the "new journalism" of the 1960s...
...Nevertheless, this work contains more valuable evidence of the singular power of mat little paper that first hit the streets of New York on May Day fifty-two years ago...
...Through a detailed "content analysis," Roberts demonstrates numerically what more intuitive readers have guessed: that the Catholic Worker has remained almost incredibly consistent in editorial content as well as ideology over more than fifty years...
...When some early would-be contributors suggested 'bitter drawings' for the paper, according to Catholic Worker illustrator Ade Bethune, Dorothy Day demurred...
...As Roberts notes, such journalism tends to appear in times of crisis, and to be characterized more by social commitment than by the usual journalistic objectives...
...Roberts has no trouble showing that, considered simply as a journalistic enterprise, the Catholic Worker owed its success to Dorothy Day's personal efforts...

Vol. 112 • May 1985 • No. 9


 
Developed by
Kanda Sofware
  Kanda Software, Inc.