Prayer, being informed and generosity are essential to the support of CNEWA’s mission, according to the agency’s president, Msgr. Peter I. Vaccari, who often reminds viewers of the importance of these three points during his monthly livestreams.
It is the second of these points that rings particularly true this February during Catholic Press Month. As Msgr. Vaccari has said, “the dissemination of truthful information is critical.”
Although Catholic and secular press alike operate in pursuit of the truth, Catholic media holds the unique position of approaching stories with Catholic teaching in mind.
Mary DeTurris Poust has worked in Catholic media as a reporter, editor, author and diocesan director of communications for nearly 40 years. She explains that the breadth of the Catholic press presents the opportunity to shed new light on issues.
“There is almost always a Catholic angle to a story. The word ‘catholic’ with a small ‘c’ means universal, and the church is absolutely universal in its scope and its mission. There is very little that cannot be viewed through a Catholic lens, which can provide a powerful depth to stories that the secular press might gloss over,” she says.
“Nobody tells the story of our faith, of our church, better than Catholic media,” says Rob DeFrancesco, executive director of the Catholic Media Association. Mr. DeFrancesco has also worked as an editor for The Catholic Sun newspaper in Phoenix and as a diocesan director of communications.
“The important thing is that the Catholic press and Catholic media organizations carry on and go forth to share the good news,” he says.
As is demonstrated by the Catholic Media Association’s name change from the Catholic Press Association, Catholic media is no longer an exclusively print platform. As it continues to adapt with the broader media world — the transition to a largely digital platform being one of such changes — the “dissemination of truthful information” has become a challenge amidst the spread of disinformation across all forms of media, making true Catholic media all the more important.
“The concept of truth is not what it was,” says David Aquije, web content manager for CNEWA and former editor for Misioneros magazine. “The Catholic press, though diminished, is here to write about the truth, from our Catholic perspective.”
“Unfortunately, there will always be publications or organizations that claim to be Catholic ‘media,’ but are not at their essence media at all. I would warn readers and viewers and listeners to be selective about their consumption of those Catholic outlets that clearly have an agenda to push or an axe to grind,” says Ms. DeTurris Poust. “True Catholic media seeks not to avenge a person or issue but to provide an honest and thorough telling of stories on a wide range of topics through serious reporting and research.”
This honesty includes reporting the truth of the church itself. Ms. DeTurris Poust believes that for an audience to truly trust their Catholic media, they must “know they are getting the truth, even the hard truth.”
“I think we can look to our national Catholic media stalwarts and to emerging Catholic media as critical to holding the church accountable in the very best way,” she says.
During this time of adaptation, Catholic media continues to keep communication, evangelization and education at the forefront of its work.
As such, Mr. DeFrancesco acknowledges that, within the Catholic press audience, people have their preferences in the media they consume, be it print or digital, and must be considered as media moves into the future.
“I think that everything has its place …” he says. “The purpose really is to communicate and that’s what we’ll continue to see people doing. They’re adapting and they’re moving forward.”
Ms. DeTurris Poust also notes that although it is “necessary for Catholic media to change and grow with the times,” it is important to consider the wide audience which Catholic media serves — an audience that includes many individuals who rely on print news.
“These publications and organizations need support,” says Ms. DeTurris Poust. “Catholic Press Month is a great time for Catholic media to highlight their work, their employees and their publications, especially to younger Catholics, so they can grow their audience and ensure that they will be a continuing presence for decades to come.”
Olivia Poust is communications assistant for CNEWA.