Finally, your newCathNews electronic newsletter and website (www.cathnews.com)! Subscribers, please pop into the site to have a look, writes Publisher Christine Hogan, and tell us what you think.
The new CathNews website is finally here, following months of planning and execution. One of the great new features is Mass on Demand, when you need it any time time during the day. All in all, it's been an experience getting it to go live.
So if you don't need any more detail than 'new website', weclome to your new CathNews, a service of Church Resources. Have a great day.
However… for those of you who want to read on for a little technical detail, here it comes.
For the past three months, your CN team has been up to its nose in terms such as navigation, functionality, system acceptance, and much, much, more that I will spare you…. Apart from the acronym FDS. That’s the Functionality Specifications Document which has figured in my life for weeks, an insatiable thing which always wants to be signed off on!
We have been working with the website developer, fatfish, to create a new website home for CathNews, CathNews Perspectives, and Bulletin Notes and the other electronic publications we are planning here in Publishing at Church Resources for the next three years.
Things have been going pretty slowly with this new CMS. We can hardly be accused of rushing things; CathNews hasn’t had more than a refresh in the past six years, and we have added some things in the past four, but have done no major work on the site. Partly that had to do with the fact we were happy with our former CMS team at ADMP in Melbourne. They were so supportive that it seemed like treason to leave them.
But we wanted to move to an open source Content Management System (CMS) and looked at Joomla and Wordpress. Wordpress is the platform which supports The New York Times on line, and The Wall Street Journal as well (delsuions of grandeur, perhaps?), so it seemed it might do for your CathNews. But the developers thought Joomla was a better option, and have customised that CMS to support CathNews.
As I said, we did not rush into this. The industry standard these days for website refreshes is about two to three years, and content management system rebuilds every three to four! CathNews might have had a refresh about five years ago, but nothing major in the past four.
The world of e-publications has exploded since CathNews was founded by Fr Michael Kelly, SJ , around 1999 (CathNews never had a physical form, and has only ever existed in virtual form). These days e-publications are everywhere, with links to social media from Facebook to Twitter, RSS feeds to Reddit.
Our redesign has spread across our social media channels as well. You can see how it translates to our Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/CathNews).
You will notice that there is a great new feature – Mass on Demand. From St Mary’s in North Sydney, one of the three Parishes of Our Lady of the Way, this link will enable you to have an experience of daily Mass on your own computer or handheld device.
This MoD service was part of the Church Resources ConnectCare project, run in conjunction with the Federal government. It was originally created to ensure that people who were isolated either by age, infirmity, or distance, could see Mass daily.
As part of that project, Church Resources has provided video-conferencing kits to the Mercy Aged Care facility at Nudgee in Brisbane, two aged care facilities in Sawtell, three Calvary sites, and two for St Vincents and Mater Health Sydney – including one for the Chapel of the St Vincent’s public hospital in Darlinghurst.
Imagine the relief of a Catholic who is waiting in the middle of the night for news of a loved one in Emergency or Surgery, and being able to go into the Chapel, and switch on the Mass. Imagine if a lapsed Catholic, or someone or another faith, were comforted by this Mass on Demand service. It is a marvellous, visionary concept by our founder, who in the early days saw it coming from anywhere in the world.
So in Australia, there is no way you need miss Mass. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, though CathNews and Church Resources, provides Mass electronically three different ways. There is Mass for You at Home, on one of the secondary 10 channels, at 5.30am on Sunday. One of Australia’s longest running TV programs, it is funded by the Archdiocese of Melbourne and Church Resources.
There is also live-streamed Mass from the Cathedral Church of the Broken Bay Diocese in Waitara, which you can click on to every morning via CathNews.
And now there is Mass on Demand. Mass when you need it, any time during the day. The first Mass from St Mary’s every day will be recorded, uploaded, and made available on YouTube. The Mass will remain available for 24 hours, or until another Mass is recorded and uploaded. (If you subscribe to the CathNews service, you will be advised when a new Mass is available online.)
When you have a chance to look over the new CathNews livery, and test out the new features, please write and tell me what you think. We can draw on your experience and feedback to help us improve our service to you, and the Church, even more.
May I express my gratitude to everyone who has supported us through this process, which was challenging, to say the least (that’s because most of us who worked on this are in the first category, above). Thanks to, and many blessings, on:
• The publications team – Michael, Stefan, Pauline, and Leonard. Great job, everyone. You are the best!
• The marketing team – James, and Nick – who held our hands with great kindness through the process;
• Fatfish - Michael C, and designer Jae, and tech whizzes Kyle, and Daniel, who answered all our questions with such grace and patience;
• ADMP – James and Christian who assisted with the transition from one CMS team to another. Thank you so much for your support, your care, and your professionalism for the last decade plus;
• The team at St Mary’s North Sydney, particularly Fr Edward, Annette, and his kind presiding priests , acolytes and volunteers, who are recording and uploading the Mass over the weekends to CathNews on YouTube. Also, inside Church Resources, thanks to Luke, our CEO, for his ongoing support of this initiative, and Jason, our ICT supply manager, who took care of the technical questions when I just shrieked and fainted;
• And finally… All the organisations which came on board to take up advertising space and indicate their support for CathNews for our relaunch. We need them all to make sure that we can carry out our jobs – to bring to our readers and Subscribers the news about Catholics and Catholicism from home and abroad six times a week.
Those organisations include the Broken Bay Institute, the Diocese of Rockhampton, the Catholic Education Office of Sydney, Catholic Mission, the National Council of Priests, Catholic Religious Australia, and Jesuit Communications, as well as our CathNews colleagues in the US and NZ, and UCAN in South East Asia.
Some of Church Resources supplier partners such as Maxxia, National Maintenance Corporation, and Aria Technologies, have also indicated their support for us, as we go about fulfilling our mission.
So there you are. And here we are, hoping that you enjoy your new CathNews, and looking forward to hearing from you.
- Christine Hogan is the Publisher of faith-based communications for Church Resources, and moderates the discussion boards of CathNews.