Blue sky overhead: What readers told us

Word cloud showing top reasons our readers told us in our survey why they read Global Sisters Report. (Sara Wiercinski)

Everyone needs a strategy for rainy days, even the metaphorical ones.

Mine involved a beat-up wire basket in my former office where I tossed thank you cards, way-to-go notes and kind, hand-written letters from readers. (I had another place for the ugly ones.) When a bad day at work laid me low, I’d read a random note or two. Instant sunshine.

This week I stumbled on another antidote. Re-reading the results of a survey of Global Sisters Report readers, I felt the rain clouds blowing out of town.

We launched the online survey ahead of GSR’s first anniversary in April, curious about what you liked and what you wanted us to do better or differently. Nearly 1,100 of you answered, representing 34 countries (though most respondents were in the United States). And while the results aren’t scientific, more than 90 percent of you who responded read GSR at least once a week, and nearly half were very likely to share an article from GSR.

So, these readers know us well. Hmmm.

As I wrote in an earlier post, most heartening to me was the interest in international news, something GSR devotes a lot of time and resources to.

And there was more good news, from my perspective. The top areas of interest were stories about social justice issues; stories about what women religious are doing; U.S. news; international news and columns written by women religious. More than 70 percent of respondents were “very interested” in those topics.

We also got a lot of advice and suggestions about what GSR should add or emphasize, detailed in 450 (!!) open-ended responses, which I’d summarize as “more, broader, deeper.’’ But here are a few I noted in particular for their thoughtfulness:

“I like stories that show sisters working with other religious and secular communities for social justice and/or the common good. I like stories about sisters who stand against corruption whether in church or society. I like stories that show sisters standing with all women in the struggle for gender equality.”

”Stories about how new media is affecting how religious groups are growing in their understanding and use of new media in their lives and ministry.”

“I think U.S. sisters are at the cutting edge of renewed theology and its application in life. I am inspired by how they approach difficulties with perseverance, sustained through prayer and strengthened through the Spirit present in community.”

“I would like to learn more about the women religious who lived under Soviet domination until the 1990s and how they are adjusting and living in Eastern European countries. Also, articles by religious women in African countries and how they [work together] and form community when they come together from different tribal cultures.”

“Why the sisters do the work they do. Where they get their strength. What makes them happy. How they pray and live their spiritual lives. Their resources.”

And the sun really poked through my rainy-day mood when I got to the 664 (!!) responses about why people read Global Sisters Report. A sampling:

“I like feeling the Sisterhood I belong to.”

“It reminds me that we are not too old, few, weak, to still make a Gospel difference.”

“To keep a global perspective and not lose hope.”

“I find the articles refreshingly frank and academically robust. I like the way the stories are right there in the centre of the Catholic church and yet challenging the church.”

“Decent reporting. A different view from what I’ll ever hear from the big mainstream media. Stories/issues that matter.”

Well, describing GSR reporting as merely “decent” strikes me as cranky, but I’m all over the “stories/issues that matter.”

Blue sky overhead.

[Mary Lou Nolan is GSR’s managing editor. Reach her at]

Follow GSR on Twitter @sistersreport.