Newspapers are certainly one of the Media of Communication, and the Church which sees the media as tools of Evangelization, does not overlook "newspapers” as a very important tool for achieving its mission. The Catholic News founded in 1935, and its Mandarin counterpart, Hai Sing Pao, founded in 1955 are the two official Catholic newspapers in Singapore.
Vatican II and the post-Conciliar documents have outlined the objectives of the Catholic Press and th ese objectives can be succinctly described a s follows: "To inform and to form through information." The purpose of the Catholic Press is thus, not merely to provide information or facts, but to provide, above all, analysis and commentary on the facts and thus contribute to the continuing formation in faith of the Church's members.
Catholic News, our local Archdiocesan newspaper, reflects this general objective of the Church in its Mission/Vision Statement in the Official Catholic Directory of the Archdiocese: "The Catholic News, as the official newspaper of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore, shares in the mission of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ and His Gospel values by providing information, education and a forum for discussion. The Catholic News provides objective and accurate current information about the Church, both worldwide and local, received through wire services, news magazines and local reports. "’
Advantages of a newspaper
The newspaper as an organ of printed media enjoys an advantage over other media in that it commands a greater degree of "permanence" and affords time for reflection, unlike the non-printed media, which although more attractive, perhaps, has the disadvantage, as pointed out in the recent documents of the Pontifical Council for Social Communication, of being so fleeting and affording little time for deeper thought and reflection. In addition, unlike books and other such printed matter, the newspaper reaches the masses in greater numbers and with greater regularity since it is published at specific intervals, offering, therefore, a more sustained channel of continuing formation. In addition, of course, the newspaper does not incur the high cost of books, which is the case particularly of our Catholic books because of their restricted circulation.
Our own Catholic News
Our own local newspaper, the Catholic News is issued fortnightly and that obviously diminishes its potential as an effective channel of news, for the simple reason that news will no more be news, if it is only reported every two weeks. However, from our personal point of view this is not a serious setback, because in today's world of communication, one cannot fully achieve "news actuality" unless one runs a 24 -hour broadcasting facility with a whole army of new correspondents all over the world, like the various new s services that we have access to, on Radio and TV, in Singapore. Even the Internet can not compete with live broadcasting as it takes time to com pose the new s and get it onto a website. Incidentally, the Catholic Church does run such a service through its own "Radio Vatican". If we bear in mind the objectives of the Church in its involvement with the media, what is very important is "formation through information", then it will be appreciated that commentaries and analysis of new s and facts are what are most important to the Church's mission of forming a Christian conscience and Christian values.
Achieving the objectives
The Catholic News endeavours to live up to its mission statement of providing information, education and a forum for discussion, but like every endeavour, there is always room for improvement. Much of what it can achieve, depends also on its readership. There is obviously an inter-relationship between the two. The better the Catholic News in terms of its stated objectives, the larger the readership it can attract. Yet, its improvement depends also on an interested and an interactive readership - and a growing one at that.
Dr (Rev) Robert P. Balhetchet