Editor's Report

Calling Mr. Schiff


Advertising has rightfully played an important role in Catholic New York’s operations from the beginning. A wall in my office at the New York Catholic Center features a laminated plaque of the centerfold of our very first issue on Sept. 27, 1981, featuring a “double truck” ad sponsored by CNEWA (Catholic Near East Welfare Association).

Because of my position, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that nearly all of my time is devoted to CNY’s editorial product. Still, maintaining a healthy amount of advertising has allowed us to cover a sizable part of our budget.

Those responsibilities fall to our advertising and business manager, Matt Schiller, and the sales representatives whom he leads. It can be a tricky business to steer enough advertising into our pages without allowing through problematic accounts that could cause problems, and Matt finds the balance very well. We’ve always tried to remember that a single ad isn’t worth nearly so much as our good reputation. That’s been a solid guiding principle.

Fortunately, we’ve enjoyed support from a steady corps of advertisers, both institutional accounts affiliated with the archdiocese and the wider Church, as well as more secular accounts. As you may have noticed, we’ve received our share of business from the City of New York in recent years, beginning during the early days of the Covid pandemic when not too many others were doing much advertising because of the paucity of events taking place then. Catholic high schools throughout the archdiocese and even some beyond its borders have also been regular advertisers, especially since we’ve been able to build effective special sections at different times of the year, like next month’s High School Open House Guide.

Our classified advertising pages have a spirit of their own. They are called Community Classifieds, and it’s easy to see why when you read them. Church is our community. One of the ways that’s exemplified is through a Seeking Employment-Situations Wanted section, mainly comprising ads from home health care aides touting their own services. If you’ve ever needed a home health aide for a loved one, you know the absolutely vital role they play in the larger community.

I could go on extolling the virtues of our advertising, but I think I’ll leave it to a longtime classified advertiser to finish making the case. His name is Mr. Schiff, Martin Schiff to be exact, which I found out when I contacted him this week.

He’s a retired New York City police officer who started a business selling all manner of collectibles, from gold and silver coins to paintings and costume jewelry. His ad, on page 27 of this issue, notes that he also buys complete estates.

When CNY’s November closing was announced in May, Mr. Schiff heard of it from one of his longtime customers, who wondered to him about how she would now be getting news about the Church.

Mr. Schiff told me he was going to miss the interactions with CNY readers, which he said began “right from the start of the paper.”

As a Catholic, who worshipped first at St. Raymond’s in the Bronx and more recently at St. Francis of Assisi in West Nyack, it made sense to advertise in CNY.

“I got a good response from it,” he said. “I met a lot of nice people.”

While he’s been running small ads for years, the business sounds like a labor of love. He often shares advice with people, in some cases those who are emptying out the house of a loved one who has died and need someone to talk to.

“I always helped them,” he said. “I would tell them what to do.”

He first got into the collectibles business with his dad, who ran a similar business when Martin was young. Mr. Schiff also had physical stores under the name Westchester Antiques in the Bronx and Mount Vernon.

“People keep my number,” he explained. “Twenty years later, they’ll call me.”