Delivering the news to ‘U40’


During a brainstorming session earlier this spring, eight young adult Catholics told The Catholic Messenger how they prefer to read news. They represent the audience that one of our consultants dubbed “U40,” or the under-40 crowd, who, in general, are not familiar with our publication. They choose podcasts, e-news reports with multiple headlines for easy scanning, news alerts they receive on their newsfeed apps and stories that friends share on social media platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and Facebook, for example. Some of them read the Messenger in print or online, but young Catholics grew up in the digital age. They’re scrollers and scanners, not page-turners.

Articles about people they know grab their attention. One likes content that serves as a counterpoint to the mainstream narrative, to get a broader perspective. Some, who are professionals and parents of young children, listen to podcasts or watch video clips while doing the dishes at home. One professional loves YouTube videos, which provide a convenient “click here” link to dive deeper into a topic. A St. Ambrose University (Davenport) student said when he comes across stories of interest to him — generally, about people he knows — he shares them on Facebook.

The parents with young children said they appreciate listening to audio versions of the news and recommended that option for The Catholic Messenger’s website. Video is a big draw for all of the participants of the brainstorming sessions. One recommended short videos of Catholic Messenger stories on our website.

Why are we sharing these snippets of information with you, many of whom are longtime readers and subscribers? To remain committed to our mission to educate, inform and inspire the faithful of the Diocese of Davenport. That mission requires us to develop new ways to deliver our excellent content across the spectrum of the faithful — the U40s, middle-agers and seniors.


Last month, our staff participated as a pilot team of the Catholic Media Association’s Change Agenda: Move with Focus workshop presented by Kilian Schalk of PurpleGray Consulting.

Our virtual sessions provided short, low-intensity training to help our publication develop strategies to keep up with today’s readers.

Our staff previously participated in the CMA-sponsored Digital Transformation Seminar series in 2020 that Schalk led. This program helped us develop new skills, fostered better collaboration and streamlined our proofreading process — which is essential to providing readers with a quality publication on multimedia platforms.

The Change Agenda program caused our staff to do some soul-searching about the change necessary to move forward so that our publication remains viable and valuable for generations to come. The goals we established, with Schalk’s persistent guidance, require each of us to be flexible, adaptable and willing to let go of some current processes as we experiment with new initiatives to figure out which ones stick.

Our publication provides current readers with great content, but we need to add to our readership in order to thrive and grow. We have a digital presence now: our website (, e-edition (which our print subscribers get for free. E-mail or call us at 563-323-9959 to subscribe), Facebook page (, podcasts (, YouTube ( and Instagram ( We also are researching the development of an e-newsletter. We do all of this with a small staff of six, one of whom we share with the diocese. We depend on all of you to help deliver the good news of Jesus Christ within the context of the lived experiences of the faithful of the Diocese of Davenport.

The CMA Membership Connection e-newsletter published a Q&A interview earlier this year with Katherine Laguna, director of communications for the Diocese of Orlando, Florida, which offered insights about reaching people where they are. “Ultimately, people are hungry to learn. They are looking for inspiration and what better way than to spiritually feed them the Word of God?” she asked. “If we can spark hope and joy into the hearts of those who are seeking more in life, then we are furthering the mission of the Church. If we speak to them during the challenging moments, then they will not feel alone in their faith journey. It’s about saying, ‘Yes, life can be exciting and difficult, but God is with you through every season. You are loved.’”

We want to hear from you about how we can reach out more effectively to Catholics of all ages but especially the U40 group. Contact us at and to share your ideas or suggestions. Encourage the young adults in your life to provide their input and creativity in The Catholic Messenger.

Barb Arland-Fye, Editor

Support The Catholic Messenger’s mission to inform, educate and inspire the faithful of the Diocese of Davenport – and beyond! Subscribe to the print and/or e-edition, or make a one-time donation, today!

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