US bishops’ Communications Will Shift Focus from Print to Digital

The chief communications officer for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Department of Communications announced a restructuring that will shift the focus of its operation from a traditional print structure to a digital model. “It’s an exercise in enculturation,” said James Rogers, USCCB chief communications officer. “If you’re going to evangelize, you need to reach people where they are.”

The communications department was built when print and newspapers were the dominant force in media. The landscape has been dramatically transitioning in recent years to a digital platform, where information is frequently sought and shared in real time, Rogers told Catholic News Service May 8. Though print content will continue to be generated, more resources will be directed toward visual media, digital content and social media dissemination, Rogers said.

The restructuring involves the elimination of 12 jobs and the creation of 10 new positions.

Outside vendors and freelancers will be brought in for ongoing opinion research, as well as creative and content development, so that the USCCB can stay in tune with how the world is receiving its information, Rogers said. Calling the restructuring a “repurposing of resources and not a retrenchment,” Rogers acknowledged some displaced employees will not meet the requirements for the newly created positions and will ultimately lose their employment at the USCCB.

The independent consultants called their study a “clean-slate” approach, requiring the USCCB to look at the challenges it faces, develop the best structure to meet those challenges, “and that work was done without regard for the current structure within communications at the (USCCB),” he said. “It was based on positions and not people.” It was done that way to make sure the leadership was focused on the outcome and concentrated on where the communications efforts needed to be, Rogers said.