NZ Catholic digital on the way

When NZ Catholic sends out its final print publication at the end of June, it will mark the end of an era.

A print era, that is.

Print edition will be missed

“I liked the NZ Catholic because I could catch up with current news about Catholic NZ … seminarians, Vinnies, ordinations, school successes, photos and so on. They aren’t in mainstream media” Mary told CathNews.

“I hope the new publication will cover the range of news.”

“I loved the letters” said Veronica.

These points are backed up by former editor Pat McCarthy who regrets the loss of NZ Catholic.

NZ Catholic was the only consistent source of national news coverage for Catholics. It recorded events, issues, opinions and the highs and lows of Catholic life.

McCarthy is concerned that a potential news vacuum will encourage further fragmentation of the Church

He said NZ Catholic’s quality was recognised by over 100 awards from its peers in the Australasian Catholic and interdenominational press.

Communication builds community

McCarthy told CathNews that his understanding of Catholic media’s importance developed while he was managing editor.

He elaborated – “Communities come into existence through communication, and the Catholic Church needs Catholic media to hold it together.”

David McLoughlin expressed concern. He is journalist who has worked in media for many years and is also a member of the Australasian Catholic Press Association.

He wrote to CathNews – “I find the diminishing and fragmentation of both Catholic and secular media of great concern.

“In a world of rapid change, I believe it is very important that as many people as possible have access to reliable, professional journalism to give them accurate and timely news and other information about what is happening locally, nationally and internationally.

“Professional, curated news can of course be found online, and there are many very good online news services including Catholic ones.”

However, he told CathNews that he is worried that surveys in New Zealand and overseas indicate fewer and fewer people trust mainstream professional news services.

He finds it alarming that many people get their news from social media which he describes as “a fragmented, largely uncurated whirlpool”.

“I don’t think these are good developments” he said.

To allay this vacuum and social media “whirlpool” McCarthy wants to see an online national news service.

However, as well as a visionary he’s also a realist.

“The institutional Church is unlikely to provide this in a time of general retrenchment. So it must be done independently – as with major Catholic media outlets in the United Kingdom, North America and Europe.

“Such a service will never pay its way. News is not a commodity but a public good, something essential for a community’s life, and its value is not related to whether or not it makes a profit.”

McCarthy says he has circulated a proposal for establishing such a service and that expressions of interest have come from around the country.

He notes however that major financial backing will be necessary.

Bishop Lowe upbeat

However the publisher of NZ Catholic, Bishop Steve Lowe, is upbeat about the possibility of the new digital format.

He says the first edition could be expected before the end of the year.

“We intend developing a new monthly digital publication with enhanced use of video” he says.

“This will allow us to continue to share news, comment and reflections to inform, record and inspire our community in the Diocese of Auckland and beyond.

“This role will focus initially on producing videos that include prayer, homilies, event highlights, appeals, teaching, explaining and helping to encourage a healthy dialogue [that] our world so desperately needs.”

Farewell and thank you

“At this time, it is right to give thanks for the work of the NZ Catholic staff, past and present” says Lowe.

“They have been amazing.

“They have told the stories of our Church and society. They have published the joys and the sorrows of people’s lives.

“They have sincerely used the written word to point to Jesus Christ the Word.

“Thank you also to the contributors from across the country and the promoters in parishes.

“Your stories of people and communities will remain a treasure of the Church’s history in New Zealand.”

Possible printed version

NZ Catholic understands that people who cannot access the free digital content will be able to receive a printed version of the new digital NZ Catholic.

There is no mention of the cost.


Additional reading

News category: New Zealand.

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