Vatican's communications secretariat prioritizes new media

The Vatican flag. Credit: Andreas Duren/CNA.
The Vatican flag. Credit: Andreas Duren/CNA.

.- Internet content and and video production will assume a greater role in Vatican communications in the years to come, suggests the establishment and – particularly – the leadership of the newly established Secretariat for Communications.

At the same time, traditional media, such as the Vatican's newspaper and radio, are likely to diminish in prominence.

On June 27, Pope Francis established the new secretariat via a motu proprio. From June 29, it will oversee the all of the Vatican’s communications offices, including Vatican Radio, L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican Television Center, the Holy See Press Office, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Vatican Internet Service, the Vatican Typography, the Photograph Service, and the Vatican publishing house.

Each of these offices “must continue their own activities, in accordance, however, with the indications given by the Secretariat for Communications.”

The current head of Vatican Television, Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, has been named prefect of the new dicastery, while Fr. Lucio Adrian Ruiz of the Vatican Internet Service, has been appointed its secretary.

The Roman Pontiff also named Paolo Nusiner, director of the Italian newspaper Avvenire – a project of the Italian bishops, rather than the Vatican – as director general. Giacomo Ghisani, head of Vatican Radio’s International Relations Office and Legal Affairs and a member of the board of Vatican Television, is vice-director general.

The absences in the board are perhaps as noteworthy as the inclusions.

The leadershiop of the Secretariat for Communications has no place for Msgr. Paul Tighe, an official of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, though he was a member of the committees and commissions established to evaluate and reform Vatican communications.

The Vatican's publishing house is also poorly represented, and it had not been included in the previous committees beginning the communications reform.

On the other hand, Gian Maria Vian, editor of L’Osservatore Romano. was part of the committee chaired by Lord Patton, but was not included in the subsequent commission. The Vatican's newspaper is expected to become more digital, and its content to be put under central coordination, which should affect Vatican Radio as well.

Vatican Radio is represented by Ghisani, who was also a member of the committee. Ghisani, however, is not a journalist – no members of the board have formation in journalism – and mostly deals with legal issues.

Vatican Television is likely to assume the bulk of the Vatican's communications strategy. A source who works in Vatican communications told CNA June 27 that “Pope Francis is really aware of the power of images, and is constantly in touch with Msgr. Viganò in order to understand how images are delivered. This gives Vatican Television a prominent role among the Vatican media branches.”

It might be foreseen that the narration of the pontificate will be provided by images and a central management of contents, to be delivered via the Vatican internet platform, which would combine all the Vatican's news content, centralized under a single editorial control.

Additional expenses will be cut step by step, though at the moment there are no plans to remove staff.

Tags: Secretariat for Communications