THE Catholic Church is not getting much good press of late.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has made the Church an easy target for the media and deservedly so.
Mother Teresa made headlines for a few days with her canonisation, but always paired with negative connotations regarding her legacy.
This is the state of mainstream press, but what does it look like in a Catholic media newsroom?
Working in Catholic media has its moments, but your efforts can be taken for granted.
The Archdiocese of Brisbane has its own media team, a Communications office and this newspaper, the latter of which is funded by people who pay each week to read our paper, and our advertisers.
The Archdiocesan communications network reaches more than 150,000 people each month – coverage many news organisations would envy in a time of dwindling media revenues and readers.
We are a small team of dedicated people churning out a weekly newspaper, daily social media posts, videos, magazines, online newsletters and other material on various platforms to evangelise and keep people informed about what’s happening in the archdiocese, the country and across the globe from the Catholic perspective.
Mainstream media isn’t covering these stories, but we are.
The truth is if we don’t cover them, they will never see the light of day.
It’s a job that is demanding, but the reward is helping to share the Good News.
The Australian Catholic Press Association was meeting in Sydney recently discussing ways Catholic media should be believed in, and supported by Christians.
Our team has not always been recognised for their skill by our fellow Catholics.
A story The Catholic Leader covered recently was posted on a reader’s Facebook account.
One of the commenters posted that it was interesting, but suggested some real media should cover the story.
Real media? Really? We have a newsroom with more than 100 years of collective journalism experience across a variety of media.
We have Walkley Award winners, former editors of major newsrooms, multiple award-winning journalists and other talented team members and yet we’re still considered a lower level of journalism.
More recent feedback concerned a four-minute news video on an event in Brisbane posted on our YouTube channel.
I was told it looked as though “some real media” had done the story.
After working in mainstream media for more than a decade, I hate to break it to these people, but the majority of stories they want covered will never be covered in secular media.
The secular narrative and the religious narrative rarely cross paths.
If people want to see Catholic media continue, and keep providing a place to give the voiceless a voice, we need new attitudes about Catholic press.
We don’t seek accolades or awards, but they are always welcomed if they come our way. We won several awards at the recent ACPA Conference.
These awards encourage us to continue being at the forefront of all journalism in Australia – to report the truth with honesty, fairness, independence and respect for the rights of others.
Recently American journalist Greg Erlandson, who will become the director and editor in chief of the Catholic News Service of the United States bishops, spoke about this attitude towards Catholic press.
He said the Catholic press had a critical role to play in the media, not just in the Church.
“This will take some courage. It also will call for professionalism and restraint in the face of really un-Christian hatefulness and arrogance, often driven by ideologies and agendas hostile to the Church or its leaders,” he said.
“Catholic media … are the only really consistent effort made at adult faith formation.
“Whether explicitly or implicitly, the Catholic press helps Catholics become more knowledgeable not just about current events, but about their faith and how it applies today.”
This is our mission at The Catholic Leader, and we need readers to appreciate our output.
Mr Erlandson said what the Catholic media needed to do was report intelligently, honestly and from a perspective of faith, helping to both inform and educate Catholics.
“More educated and more intelligent listeners are the best antidote to the superficial, even erroneous reporting that one can find in the general media when it comes to Church documents and statements,” he said.
“The Church is a 2000-year-young embodiment of God’s love for us. It is dedicated to the renewal of the world and the salvation of souls.
“It doesn’t fulfil its mission by playing it safe or by being forever in a defensive posture.”
This is what we at The Catholic Leader are here to do and with your support we can only do better.
Matt Emerick is the managing editor of The Catholic Leader. He has worked as a journalist and subeditor for mainstream and Catholic media for over 15 years.