Sunday, January 2, 2011

What does the Catholic Media Office do?

There has been nothing on the Catholic Media Office's website about the reception of the three former anglican bishops and three nuns and others into the Catholic Church on New Year's Day.

Now I know it is Christmas and New Year and public holidays will be observed. But professional news organisations plan ahead. It is even possible to prepare press releases, blog posts, etc. and have them automatically post at a later date and time.

Is it that this whole event was intended to be kept quiet? There might have been good reasons for this, e.g. the persons concerned might have requested this. Or maybe there was some fear of appearing triumpahlistic? Whatever the reason the consequence is that mis-information abounded. From initial reports of there being five or six bishops and their wives, it became three bishops and the wives of two (the wife of the other being a Jew with no desire/intention of converting to Christianity). The reports that three nuns were to be received were accurate. But now we hear that a good number of laity were received as well.

A simple press statement would have given accurate information. Hopefully an official news release will be published once everyone gets back from their holidays which, in the UK, will be Tuesday!


  1. "But professional news organisations plan ahead".

    I think your question contains its own answer.

  2. The Catholic Media office and their associated organisations proved during the Papal Visit that they are a very professional organisation who are more than capable of shaping and communicating a message.

    I think the complexities of this particular matter are far deeper than those of us who happen to have a website can comprehend at this stage.

    One thing is clear though, and that is that things are moving ahead quickly - thanks in no small part to the support and drive provided by the CBCEW.

  3. Actually, Jack, it's not that difficult if you are a professional. There's news to get out there, so you get it out there. You can do three things. Have someone on duty outside office hours. Prepare a press release and electronically pre-time its release.Then have someone on hand to brief the media.
    The only reason why not is if your organisation boss tells you not to. Let me reprise how thoroughly and publicly the Papal visit to the UK was downplayed in advance.
    Who turned it around? The Pope himself and the laity who turned out in their thousands to greet him.
    I think this picture sums up the situation neatly. The mouth is open but no sound comes out.

  4. Hmm... My comments here seem to have drawn a bit of fire, which is a shame as I have always got on very well with Fr. John in the past.

    Perhaps I could have phrased it a little better, but I was simply trying to make the point that in my experience (which is not negligible where Catholic media is concerned) sometimes things can be far more complex than it may appear to the rest of us - not because we are 'mortal' but because, well, I guess because there are often a lot of complexities around issues.

    I do agree that the Catholic Media operation isn't always astounding, but as the Vatican learned the hard way last year, there is a hell of a lot more to it than "this has happened, so let's put it out there."

    Also, Genty, I completely disagree with your assessment of the media before the Papal visit. As somebody who runs a website I was inundated with stuff - official stuff - from all over the place. The 'joyful noise' project and the 'Catholic Voices' project were also hugely successful initiatives, which are now being copied the world over. Okay, I know that CV wasn't official CBCEW, but it had its full support.

    Knowing the futility of arguing on the internet, I shall withdraw at this point and bid all a happy new year :)

  5. Dear Jack

    My sarcastic reference to your comment was unwarranted and cheap. I apologise. I have deleted it.

    You are amongst many trying to do good for the Church in the way they consider best. Keep it up. Deo omnis gloria.

  6. Dear Jack, Pax. As one who has worked in a frenetic media office I know you can only do what you are allowed to do. If the boss, eg the bishops' conference, instructs you to say nothing, you're kiboshed.
    The point I was trying to make, but rather peremptorily I admit, was not about being reactive because by then, as the Vatican media office so often discovers, it's too late.
    But for an event that you know is going to happen, you plan, you prepare and you anticipate the questions so you can answer the "whys".
    Yes, the new initiatives worked reasonably well for the Papal visit but, with respect, at the beginning the visit was publicly perceived by some of the hierarchy to be a potential non-event and statements made accordingly. Only later did things ratchet up. Often it happens that an in-house media office is ignored, new voices/consultants come in with exactly the same advice and are hailed as amazing graces.
    I think that the greatest initiative of all has been the burgeoning of Catholic blogs which unite us in a way unimaginable a decade ago, (even when we have disagreements!). I wish you and all Catholic bloggers a happy and blessed 2011. You are owed a great debt.


Please avoid being 'anonymous' if at all possible.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...