Monday, July 3, 2017

2017 Catholic Media Conference in Quebec

2017 Catholic Media Conference in Quebec

The Catholic Media Conference (CMC) is an annual meeting of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada and the Catholic Academy of Communication Professionals. The latter organization merged with the CPA earlier this year. This year’s meeting was June 21-23 at Laval University in Quebec City. Its official theme was “Sharing Stories of Hope.”

If you read the preceding entry, you know the CMC met in conjunction with SIGNIS. It was the first time that SIGNIS and CMC planned overlapping, shared congresses.  No need to repeat here what the previous post says.

The exhibitors hall in the foyer area of Laval University's student center.
CMC brought together some 200 Catholic communicators (I don’t know what the final registration count was) from the U.S. and Canada, plus a good number of SIGNIS attendees who took part not only in the shared day on the 21st but also one or both of the following days:  editors, diocesan directors of communications, reporters, publishers, filmmakers, TV and radio producers, exhibitors, et al.

Thru our province newsletter, E-Service, the New Rochelle Province is a CPA member, and I regularly attend the CMC.  Salesian Missions joined CPA about 3 years ago and has had a booth in the exhibitors’ hall at the last 2 CMCs.
Peter Jesserer Smith of National Catholic Register chats with Salesian Missions'
Hannah Gregory about coverage of missions stories.
The Old City of Quebec

As usual, there was a social event on Tuesday evening for early arrivers at the conference.  It was billed as a bus tour of the Old City (of Quebec) but wasn't much of that.  On the bus I happened to ride, we did have a guide who commented on the various spots that we passed and who recommended Aux Anciens Canadiens as a good restaurant.  (Apparently people on other buses didn't get any commentary on the way into downtown.)  We were all deposited at the large plaza outside the Hotel Frontenac.
A statue of Samuel de Champlain, founder of New France, graces the plaza.
Chateau Frontenac dominates the plaza;
it's a very high class hotel built by the Canadian Pacific RR
I joined up with old friends Ann Augherton (Arlington) and her husband Chris Gunty (Baltimore), and John Feister (St. Anthony Messenger); and met new friends Dan and Amy Morris (he's with National Catholic Reporter).  After a look at the river and original city way down below the plaza, they all wanted to eat, and we traipsed back to Anciens Canadiens, which occupies a mid-17th-century house (if I remember the date correctly).  The food was good but not inexpensive.  We joked about the bus guide getting a kickback.  Eventually a large number of other CPA folks wandered in, as well.
Ann Augherton and your humble blogger after dinner
By the time we finished dinner, it was fairly late and darkening.  We took the funicular down into the lower city ($3 Canadian each way), which was almost like a fairyland with the lights in and on the quaint old stone shops and homes.  At that hour most of the shops were already shut, but Ann hankered for some ice cream, which she found.  We wandered about just a little bit before deciding it was time to get back up to the plaza for the bus.
The funicular tram

Ann and Chris surveying a case of gelato, with Amy and Dan behind them.
Just as we got back up via the funicular, it began to rain, and then to pour, and then to thunder and lightning.  We sought such shelter as we could, losing Dan and Amy in the process and eventually being joined in our little huddle (with a few but not enuf umbrellas) by Tim Walter.
Chris and Ann in the rain
The city's main post office building on the opposite side of the plaza from our huddle
Outside the cathedral before Mass: Kerry Weber (America), Don Clemmer (Our Sunday Visitor), Greg Erlandson (CNS), Maria Scaperlanda (freelancer), Helen Osman (formerly USCCB, now consultant), and Tony Gutierrez (Phoenix Catholic Sun). In this distinguished group are 3 former St. Francis de Sales Award winners (Greg, Maria, and Helen), 2 former CPA presidents (Greg and Helen), and probably 1 or 2 future SFS winners and/or presidents.

Notre Dame Cathedral, built in stages starting in 1647
So much for an evening "on the town."  We got a little bit more of the Old City on Wednesday when all 500 of us (SIGNIS and CMC) were bused to Notre Dame Cathedral for Mass with Cardinal Lacroix.  On that experience, I recommend you read Deacon Greg Kandra's post.
In the cathedral is the tomb of St. Francis de Laval, 1st bishop of Quebec (and of the whole of non-Spanish North America), 1659.
Amy Morris was kind enuf to take some pix with my camera during Mass,
then asked for one of me with Dan after Mass.
There wasn't enuf time before Mass to get down to the lower city, but I roved a little bit in the square in front of the cathedral and then down to Montmorency Park behind it.
From Montmorency Park, a view of the St. Lawrence River with a ferry pulling in, and of the spire of Our Lady of Victories Church in the lower City.
From Montmorency Park, the main entrance to the main post office
and a grand statue of St. Francis de Laval.
Knowing the Scent of the Sheep

As noted in the SIGNIS post, numerous speakers, both “keynoters” and panelists, in both plenary sessions and the smaller “breakout” or professional-area sessions, spoke indirectly of the need for communicators to be attuned to the sheep of the Lord’s flock.

In a CPA session for editors, Fr. Richard L’Archer from Ste. Anne de Beaupré, Que., linked theology and news reporting: “Think like a Theologian; Write like a Newshound.” After some thoughts about the importance of theological nuance in writing, he asked the editors and reporters present, How does our understanding of human beings help us to evangelize? How can people see God in their daily lives? He said that the vital elements of our writing include knowledge, communion with the Word of God and one another, and correct vocabulary. We respect the mystery of individuals, of the Church, and of communities. Our reporting has to communicate by bringing the stories of individuals into the hearts of our readers.

In a panel discussion moderated by Rockford’s Penny Wiegert with participants Anne Marie Cox (Des Moines), Mike LaCivita (CNEWA), and Helen Osman (formerly USCCB, now a consultant) about handling crisis communications, several people observed that the key word is “community.” When formulating a message reporting on or responding to a crisis, you have to know the community you’re dealing with. (That session was packed more than any other that I attended.)
"How Did You Handle This?" Moderator Penny Wiegert is standing.
The panel, l-r, is Mike LaCivita, Helen Osman, and Anne Marie Cox.
It seems to me that the examples above illustrate calls to smell like the sheep—at least as important for priest and religious evangelizers as for people working as communicators in fields other than the pulpit or classroom.

But the idea of communion and sensitivity to the sheep also came from no less a source than filmmaker Martin Scorsese.  On that, see the SIGNIS post.

Other Observations

Mary Solberg of the Erie Diocese identified Twitter as a source of information, an aid to journalism, a global resource, an ecosystem of news.

On Thursday evening the Catholic Academy held its final Gabriel Awards dinner and presented those awards for the 52nd and last time. The CPA will continue them in the future. The Gabriels recognize and honor excellence in film, audio, and video. This was the first time that I attended the Gabriel dinner; I usually go to the CPA Awards dinner, but I had to depart early this year. I was a little surprised to see that most of the awards go to secular media like the CBC and NPR stations. Honored with the Gabriel Personal Achievement Award this year, however, was Sr. Rose Pacatte, DSP.
Sr. Rose sharing credit for her Gabriel
with the large staff of the Pauline Center for Media Studies
From several commenters: Avoid church-speak! Help the media and others know what you’re talking about, in simple terms. When technical language must be used, explain it clearly. Build relationships with the secular media. “Try to be helpful and bring them on board” (Mike LaCivita, director of communications for CNEWA).

Matt Schiller Wins the Frannie

The Catholic Press Association’s highest award, the St. Francis de Sales Award, was presented at lunch on Friday, June 23. It honors an individual for his or her contributions to Catholic journalism. When voting, CPA members usually face a tough choice among three or four nominees.

This year’s winner was Matt Schiller, business manager of Catholic New York. Accepting the award, Mr. Schiller said that the Catholic press isn’t just a job; it’s a passion. We’re evangelists of the same Catholic faith that the Catholic saints of Quebec exemplify (St. Francis de Laval, St. Marie of the Incarnation, and Blessed Catherine of St. Augustine). He highlighted his mentors in the Catholic press and stressed the importance of mentoring, both teaching one’s colleagues and learning from them. His final advice was to build personal bridges with people; thank everyone; and forgive everyone.
Matt Schiller and Frannie
Read more:,15767?

As usual, a great CPA team (this year: Malea Hargett, Mary Anne Castranio, Rob DeFrancesco, Teak Phillips, Matt Schiller, Michael Swan, Joe Towalski, Tim Walter, Penny Wiegert, and Mark Zimmerman) put together an excellent conference. Unsung but doing yeoman work was CPA's "project assistant" Carol Arnold (below).

Unfortunately, I had to leave CMC right after the Friday luncheon (the DeSales Award) to get to the airport so as to be on hand for Salesian ordinations in New York on Saturday morning.  God had other plans, but that’s another story.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks Fr. Mike for this excellent recap of our week in Quebec City.
Glad you enjoyed and benefited from the SIGNIS World Congress and CPA's CMC.
It is always great having you with us.
Best, Matt