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Putting church on media radar

May 26, 2008
From the Toronto Sun
Many times in the church, our stories are non-stories because key elements are missing. In more biblical language, how on Earth do we move the light from under the bushel and onto the lamp stand so everyone in the house may see it? How do we learn the difference between old news and the new news -- with relevance, a real story worth telling to the world?
High on the agenda at the Catholic Media Convention starting today in Toronto is the theme of the so-called hostility of "secular" media to religion and the church. Is the hostility real or perceived? What can be done to build bridges?
The convention will help church media workers learn to tell our stories to the world cogently, boldly and courageously. The theme of the convention is "Proclaim it from the rooftops."
I have learned some powerful lessons in dealing with the media over the years. It serves no purpose for church officials, leaders and members to vilify those in the media, to stonewall and not respond to the constant phone calls of this reporter, that producer, some editor. That's the nature of the beast. They don't call it breaking news for nothing.
Nor does it serve any purpose for those in the "secular" media to ignore or marginalize the church and religious issues, treating them as trivial matters that don't merit serious reflection.
We have to learn from each other, and we have much good work to do together to serve the cause of truth and decency in a world that is becoming more devoid of value, virtue and meaning.
As the late Pope John Paul II (himself a media expert and master) wrote in his final 2005 Apostolic Letter entitled "The Rapid Development": "Communication both within the church community and between the church and the world at large requires openness and new approach toward facing questions regarding the world of media. This communication must tend toward a constructive dialogue, so as to promote a correctly informed and discerning public opinion within the Christian community."
One of the unique aspects of the Toronto convention is our concern for the future, especially how we can reach out to the next generation and involve young adults in the mission of communications. This week will be an intensive lesson for North American Catholic journalists in building bridges within and outside the church, as we learn to tell our stories, bear witness to the truth and proclaim our message from the rooftops.