Vatican plans to re-vamp media strategy

Wednesday 09 July 2014 23.51
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Pope Francis' twitter account has over 4 million followers
Pope Francis' twitter account has over 4 million followers
Chris Patten is the former chairman of the BBC Trust
Chris Patten is the former chairman of the BBC Trust

Former chairman of the BBC Trust Chris Patten will head a committee to advise Pope Francis on how to re-vamp and modernise the Holy See's media strategy.

Mr Patten will chair the 11-member committee made up of six experts from around the world and five Vatican officials.

Dublin priest Monsignor Paul Tighe has been appointed secretary to the committee.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said Mgr Tighe is a person of integrity and competence, whose innovation in media relations is "making a significant impact in the Universal Church".

The new committee will make proposals within the next year to bring the Vatican more up to date with communications trends, improve coordination among departments and cut costs, a statement said.

The Vatican, which already has a number of internet sites and Twitter accounts, including that of Pope Francis, will use more digital media to reach a wider, younger audience, it said.

Mr Patten was most recently head of the organisation that oversaw the BBC, enduring three turbulent years as Britain's public broadcaster battled a series of scandals.

He stood down in May after heart surgery, saying he needed to reduce the range of roles he undertook.

Mr Patten also chaired the Independent Police Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland, which was established in 1998 as part of the Good Friday Agreement.

The other non-Vatican members of the committee come from the United States, Germany, France, Spain, and Singapore

Last year, the Vatican hired international consultancy McKinsey to prepare a report on how to improve Vatican communications.

The new committee will review that report, the Vatican said.

The Vatican has six separate communications departments - a press office, television, radio, newspaper, an internet office and a communications council, which exercises an academic and policy-making role.

They have been known not to communicate or cooperate with each other and sometimes have appeared to be in competition.

In the past, one department has published important information without telling the others.

The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, is 150 years old, and its editor is trying to modernise it to help shed its drab and staid image.

Vatican Radio, which broadcasts in 40 languages, takes up a big chunk of the Vatican's budget and some officials have questioned whether such a big structure is necessary in the internet age.

Some of the languages the radio uses are holdovers from the period when it, like Radio Free Europe, was one of the few sources of independent information in the communist East bloc.

Keywords: media, vatican