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Joseph P. Owens, newspaper industry veteran, moves into Catholic press to take reins at The Dialog


Special to The Dialog

Joseph P. Owens has been named editor and general manager of The Dialog, succeeding Joe Ryan, who retired effective Oct. 31.

Bishop Malooly appointed Owens to the post effective Nov. 13. He also announced that The Dialog will now be under the auspices of the Communications Department, headed by secretary Bob Krebs. The Communications Department also will “embark on a new initiative to strengthen all of our print, digital, and social media platforms.”

Those new duties for Krebs led Bishop Malooly to appoint Father Joseph McQuaide as chancellor. He will also continue as coordinator for the Office of Worship. Krebs had been chancellor as well as secretary of communications.

Joe Owens is the new editor of The Dialog.
Wednesday June, 11, 2014
(Patti Sapone/The Star-Ledger)

The bishop praised Ryan’s work with The Dialog, saying he had “faithfully managed The Dialog through some very difficult times. Because of Joe’s dedication, The Dialog remains an outstanding source of Catholic news, both local and national. It is one of the few diocesan newspapers left in the region.”

Owens “comes to us with decades of experience in publishing, editing, writing and digital media,” Bishop Malooly noted.

Krebs called Owens “the ideal candidate for the position because of his extensive experience as a journalist, editor and publisher. Also, he had been instrumental in successfully turning a newspaper’s website into a primary online source of news in New Jersey. This is the kind of thing that we need to do with The Dialog to assure that it remains a valued source for Catholic news in Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore.”

A love for sports while growing up led Owens to a love for newspapers, which fed his desire for more information about sports.

The interest in newspapers was augmented by a friend who worked as a copy boy — an old journalism term for a newsroom gofer — for Philadelphia’s Evening Bulletin. When the friend left for college, Owens, at age 15, took over the position.

While Owens realizes there are distinctions between the daily press and religious press, especially since The Dialog is a bi-weekly publication, he points to some similarities.

“At the core of what we do is good writing,” he said. “I think that still applies,” whether on a daily or biweekly publication or online. Also, “a good story is a good story.”

His goal is to increase The Dialog’s web visibility “to attract more online readers, because that is where the growth is.” Original content, bolstered by good stories and good writing, is integral to that effort.

Owens has most recently been a senior consultant with Gailey Murray Communications, a marketing communications company. He has been publisher/executive editor of the South Jersey Times in Mullica Hill; editor/vice president, content, for The Express-Times/Lehighvalleylive.com, Easton, Pa.; and managing editor, sports editor, reporter and columnist for The Times Herald, Norristown, Pa.

Owens and his wife of 32 years, Kristy, have three grown children and a 3-year-old grandson.

This will be his first venture into Catholic press, though he has a strong background in the Catholic faith. His older brother is Msgr. Thomas J. Owens, a retired priest of the Philadelphia archdiocese, and one of his three sisters, Genevieve Miceli, is director of parish services at St. Elizabeth in Chester County, Pa.

Owens grew up in Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, and attended its elementary school, in the Overbrook section of Philadelphia. He later attended Archbishop John Carroll High School in Radnor.

More than 20 years after high school, he earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from De Sales University in Center Valley, Pa. He had started college after high school, but became a full-time reporter at the Times Herald in Norristown, Pa., and delayed his education.

“Obviously, I have a lot to learn about Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland. But demographically, I think they are very similar to counties in Southern New Jersey,” where he merged three newspapers into the South Jersey Times in Mullica Hill.

“I really believe my experience has been in community newspapers. I feel like that is what the diocese is: a community,” he said.

Ryan first came to The Dialog as editor and general manager 1983-86. He also has been managing editor of the Catholic Standard and Times of Philadelphia and managing editor of the Catholic Review in Baltimore. He returned to The Dialog as assistant editor in 2006, and became editor and general manager in 2011. He is a past president of the Catholic Press Association.

“I think the paper is well-positioned to boost its print and online value to readers, and expand its social media impact under the leadership of Joe Owens,” Ryan said. “The staff, I’m convinced, is one of the best in the Catholic press.”