Jesuits on Digital Frontiers

The progress and innovation is happening so fast it can seem quite terrifying to those of us who are not internet natives ('internet natives' is a term attributed to those born into a world where internet was already established i.e. post-1995 or so). But to those who were born into this web-driven world, it is second nature. So how do we integrate, what can we offer, what needs to change, how do we go about it and how can we offer something that will capture the attention of a browsing public?

Between the 19th and 23rd April web masters and communication officers from many European Provinces, as well as representatives from the US, got together for the annual European Jesuit Webmasters' meeting in Lewes, England, and put our heads together to discuss all this and more - sharing experiences, know-how, questions and difficulties. Professional presentations from experts in their fields fuelled discussions in between sittings. 

Austin Ivereigh, journalist, commentator and author and former spokesman for the Archbishop of Westminster demonstrated how can we prepare ourselves and other members of the Church to effectively participate in media discussions on neuralgic issues in an era of 24-hour news. He is the founder and coordinator of 'Catholic Voices'.

Jane Hellings, director of the fundraising and management division of Kingston Smith amply stressed the importance of branding in developing recognition, trust and long-term relationships with donors.

Matt Malone SJ, who served as associate editor of 'America' magazine, and who has accumulated a wealth of experience in the world of in-depth journalism and publishing presented an insightful hour on 'The great migration? - Transitions from print to digital'.

JP Morrison, Headmaster of St Ignatius College in Enfield, London, presented the realities and experiences of digital natives (young persons born into a world where digital media were already well established), particularly the experiences of the students in this north London school.

Nick Austin SJ, who teaches moral theology at Heythrop College, University of London, proposed a way of taking on this new world, whereby individual's real freedom and relationships would not be damaged, and all of this through the virtue of temperance.

John Dardis SJ, President of the Conference of European Provincials, joined us too, leading workshops which extracted goals related to Jesuit presence in the digital media and means by which to achieve these goals within the next few years.

We would like to:

  • Embrace and take on this digital world as a frontier which our presence cannot overlook.
  • Invest in human resources and finances for this work, so that we can be present and effective. 
  • Listen to the needs of our public, and that may mean you! (So write to us...)
  • Become evermore familiar with digital media and use it for the service of the Lord. 

Should you wish to have more information about any of the presentations which are listed above, please contact Alison Vella at the Jesuit Communications office on media[at]jesuit.org.mt

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