A note about The Tablet

My friend Fr. Ray Blake, the p.p. of St. Mary Magdalen in Brighton, posted this about The Tablet (aka The Bitter Pill).

Keep in mind this may be hard to substantiate.

Shops seem to be closing all over Brighton, more of my people are unemployed but there is one good thing about the recession, maybe just one. The Tablet is hemorrhaging money, according to Ttony – thousands of pounds each week according to the latest accounts it has eventually posted. Admittedly the accounts are pre-recession.

It claims it has a circulation of more than 22,000 copies each week, though in common with other British Catholic papers that probably means that is how many are printed whilst in fact only a small proportion are sold or read. Ttony repeats the claim that the Tablet makes that each copy is read by three people, I have never seen how that can be substantiated, it appeals to diminishing niche market.

Unfortunately it has vast resources laid down from when it was a bastion of mainstream Catholicism.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Supertradmum says:

    But, Father Z, early on, it was infected with Modernism, as the editor of the paper from 1967 to 1982, Thomas Burns, was not exactly a traditional, nor conservative Catholic. I knew him personally. He asked me to write his biography, but his son wanted to do it. I do not know what I would have done with the Humanae Vitae debacle at the paper. He was a great man and a great Catholic presence, but his religious views were not straight down the wicket. The rot set in after his rejection of Humanae Vitae, and the editor after Mr. Burns was even more a Modernist. I remember my friend, Harman Grisewood stating that The Tablet after Burns, was run by “mediocre” writers and journalists-specifically referring to John Wilkins, who I met once. Wilkins made the paper even more Leftist. That the paper is what it is reveals a history of compromise, not a history of obedience to Holy Mother Church.

  2. Supertradmum says:

    PS and as there are at least 4.2 million Catholics in England and Wales, more in Scotland and Northern Ireland, a circulation of 22,000 does not seem great to me. I bought it when I lived in England, just to follow the nonsense. I am sure the universities, seminaries, and colleges have it in their libraries. I do not necessarily believe the three to one readership.

  3. Legisperitus says:

    Perhaps they meant to say that each issue is read by three people.

  4. Torkay says:

    Sooner or later, any Catholic institution which has been perverted by those who control money will be destroyed by money.

  5. Supertradmum says:

    I want to clarify that Mrs. Tom Burns, Mabél Marañón, wanted her world-renown photographer and journalist son to write Tom’s biography, I think, to keep information “in the family”. I was given a copy and it was not at all sufficient in covering the immense importance of The Tablet over the contraception and abortion debate in England. Sadly, the author did not understand the influence in Catholic circles of The Tablet at the time. In fact, the issue of The Tablet being a renegade rag from early on was missed in an effort to show Tom as some sort of champion of publishing, which he was to a point, but a loose cannon in the upholding of the Teaching of the Magisterium. The faster this paper dies, the better, but the damage done is generations old.

    As to Douglas Woodruff, the editor before Burns, I think that there was also some Modernist influence. Woodruff was part of the Catholic intellectual movement between the wars, which included Belloc. But the group was not singular in its stand towards Mother Church. Some of the works which came out were in the form of essays in Essays and Order, Order being a Catholic magazine published mid-wars. These essays were heavy on the political and philosophical side, including Maritain and Gilson, and some of the same people were writing for The Tablet. However, and I have read all the series of the Essays, had them in hard-bound until very recently, and read all the issues of Order at the British Library (Museum), writing a chapter in my dissertation on this, not all the authors were orthodox. Modernism seeped into the English Church slowly but surely in the first half of the 20th century. One has to pick and choose from the writings of these Catholics from about 1900 to 1980, a long time for such a pernicious influence in English Catholicism.

    When The Tablet is referred to as having been the voice of Mainstream Catholicism, I cringe, as the stream, at least in intellectual circles, and by extension, to reading Catholics, was very polluted. In my reading experience, The Tablet was, at least since the Burns’ editorship, not “Catholic”.

  6. Jack Hughes says:

    To be honest I’m more concerned with the unemployment figures than the circulation of the Tablet

  7. shane says:

    It’s a disgusting rag but sadly you have to read if you want to keep up speed with English church politics.

  8. Magpie says:

    I sometimes put the sample copies of The Tablet in a drawer on the sales table in my parish church, so that when the copies are discovered, they will be out of date.

  9. M. K. says:

    I wonder how many Tablet subscribers are institutions (including religious houses) rather than private individuals. I’ve seen the mag in religious libraries on four continents (North and South America, Europe and Asia), so its niche seems to a global one. (Of course, this may also suggest that the UK readership is even lower than may otherwise be supposed – if the 22,000 copies aren’t merely limited to the UK but are distributed worldwide.)

  10. RichardT says:

    According to their published accounts, their subscription income for the latest year was just over £2.5 million. With a cover price of (I think) £2/week (say £100/year), that’s 25,000 subscribers.

    Some of that income will be for other publications, so the number of Tablet subscribers will be a bit lower. But it does seem that their claim of 22,000 subscribers is probably accurate, and is for paid copies only (i.e. it doesn’t include the extra copies printed and left lying around in the back of churches).

    A pity; I’m sorry to see that so many people are being led astray. But the only people I know who read it are liberal Anglicans, so perhaps it isn’t causing too much damage.

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