Date of Award

Fall 1993

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Thorn, William J.

Second Advisor

Okonkwor, Chude

Third Advisor

Leonard, Richard

Abstract

Over the years an abundance of magazines have flooded the market. In course of time sane of them faded and perished, while others have endured. In the catholic press, one magazine among the very few - the St. Anthony Messenger - recently completed one hundred years. The tumultuous period of Vatican II was also the era when a number of catholic magazines collapsed or were forced to close down. Yet this magazine survived this upheaval. What did this magazine contain that kept its readers attached to it and thereby help it to outlive its contemporaries? Again, how did this magazine survive the Vatican II years which resulted in the demise of so many catholic magazines? Such concerns motivate the present research study. Borrowing some constructs from the media dependency theory, we venture to examine the content of the magazine. This exploratory study analyzes the content of the magazine against the backdrop of the development and growth of the catholic press during the last hundred years. A critical historical reading of the magazine was done to detect if certain elements of the media dependency theory could be applied to uncover reasons why the reading audience remained loyal to the magazine. We surmised that this loyalty will be even moore evident during the Vatican II years. Hence the Vatican II era became the time frame for our inquiry. We attempted to establish whether during those years the magazine provided content to help its readers make sense of that unsettling time. The results showed that readers renamed loyal to the magazine not because it provided its readers special content on Vatican II. The reason of the magazine's perseverance lay in the fact that it kept its family oriented goals clearly in perspective, and offered its readers significant matter to satisfy their needs. Based on this study, the researcher proposes that a magazine, be it catholic or secular, will subsist as long as it maintains its goals in spite of pressures and constraints. The St. Anthony Messenger has demonstrated this in this initial study; a more comprehensive and careful investigation will bolster this conclusion in a substantial measure.

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