Years ago, when I was considering a career path, I considered the diplomatic service. Why not? I wanted to travel, was studying French Hons and Japanese at university, did night classes in Spanish and Italian, so it seemed a good fit.
When I proudly announced my plans over the family dinner table, I got a reaction I hadn’t banked on: first, stunned silence. Then, hysterical laughter erupted as they choked on their Irish stew. The upshot seemed to be that I would be a danger to shipping in the quiet and polite reaches of diplomacy. Journalism suddenly seemed a better option, requiring, perhaps, less tact.
I thought about that the other day, when I was trying to explain to someone why a particular media release sent by her organisation would not actually make a story for CathNews. I danced around the point for a while, which made the person on the other end of the line more and more confused.
Eventually, I managed to choke out: 'Well, it’s not very well written.’ She was hurt – turned out, she had written it herself.
Trying to lessen the blow, I carried on: ‘And it is a media release about something that happened a month ago.’ The injured silence continued; I rushed to fill the gap and made things worse. ‘The publication is CathNews, you know… not CathNews-ish.’Shocking to have learned so little over the years, but just further proof that the diplomatic service had a very lucky escape thanks to the derision of my family.
However, there is an interesting question here – just how does an organisation or an individual get a story, a point, or an opinion, into CathNews?
So let’s take it from our fundamental premise: ‘CathNews is a daily clipping service which links to media coverage concerning the Catholic Church or related issues. CathNews does not have a mandate to create content, but to reflect what is in the public domain.’
That’s the basis of what we do here at CathNews, but…There are some exceptions to the aggregation rule, the notable one being ‘CathNews may publish material provided directly from official Catholic Church sources.’
So how to cut through the throng of media releases and news stories to make sure your story getsinto the CathNews newsletter and on to the website? Here are five ways:
Almost all of CathNews’ editorial content comes through the aggregation of news which is the essential business of a clipping service.However…If you belong to an official Church Agency under the auspices of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia, Dioceses and Religious Congregations, Major Lay Organisations, you are invited to send your Media Releases to [email protected] for consideration for inclusion in CathNews. Your Media Release might not make the news list, but it will certainly be posted on the Media Release page of CathNews, and have visibility in that way.
[Note that viewscoming from a single site source other than an official Church site (ACBC, CRA etc) are avoided; for example, a news release from a parish action group or an individual.]
News Comment.If you belong to a church agency, and know that a story which affects your agency or organisation is about to appear in the media, you are invited to be pro-active. If you would like to have your relevant view joined to a story which you think CathNews might be aggregate, contact the Editor-in-Chief via email up until 6am of the day the story will be appearing in the media.If appropriate, your comment can then be woven into the narrative aggregated by the CathNews editors. Remember, the more timely you are, the more likely it is that your comment can be used. I
CathNews cannot commission material, but under its editorial guidelines can publish comment which is an individual’s opinion. There are two avenues for that:Story comment. The CathNews discussion boards invite comments from readers, and the requirements for being published are included on the board – identifiers such as name, location, phone number, are required. Go to CathNews (www.cathnews.com), select the story you wish to comment on, and then away you go – up to 250 words! CathBlog. A group Blog, this feature on the website and the newsletter has fast become a favourite with subscribers and readers. The CathBlog editor is in the process of building a stable of writers who can write with wit and brevity on a whole range of topics dealing with the Church and Catholics. If you think you have what it takes to join the CathBloggers, write to the CathBlog Editor at [email protected] with your idea or Blog.
Okay, so there’s how. Submit, and someone more diplomatic than I am will tell you if your story fits. When it comes to the discussion boards, though, that is still down to me. And I am still working on my diplomatic skills. Some days are better than others….
Christine Hogan is the Communications Manager of Church Resources.
Disclaimer: CathBlog is an extension of CathNews story feedback. It is intended to promote discussion and debate among the subscribers to CathNews and the readers of the website. The opinions expressed in CathBlog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference or of Church Resources.