Skip to content

A Chairman on the Church and the Media

Interview With William Burleigh of Scripps Company

CINCINNATI, Ohio, DEC. 15, 2005 (Zenit) - Modern Catholics have an obligation to be well informed, says the chairman of one of the largest newspaper firms in the United States.

William Burleigh, chairman of E.W. Scripps Company, retired from active management in 2000 after working for the company for 50 years -- first as a reporter and editor, and eventually as its chief executive officer.

He shared with us the proper role of the media, and how the Church and its members should engage the media.

Q: In his message for World Communications Day 2005, Pope John Paul II held up the media "at the service of understanding among peoples." Is that how most journalists see their work?

Burleigh: I don't think I'm being naive in saying that the vast majority of journalists in my experience are basically idealistic.

This may come as a surprise to many who see them as cynical, controlling or even churlish. But I suspect most true professionals would have few quibbles with the late Pope's mandate.

To take but one example: For almost a century, my own company's newspapers have lived by the motto "Give light and the people will find their way." That's another way of saying the same thing about creating understanding among people.

Q: Pope Benedict XVI's theme for World Communications Day 2006 is "The Media: A Network for Communication, Communion and Cooperation." Are the media in general easing the way for unity and understanding among peoples, or exacerbating problems? We can think of Al-Jazeera in the Arab world, but media in the Western world are known to fan the fires of ideology, too.

Burleigh: There's generalized confusion about the role of the media. Its principal function is to gather facts about the world around us and present them in a fair, balanced manner. But another -- and presumably separate -- role is to offer opinions and serve as a marketplace for competing ideas.

Unfortunately, those two roles are more and more frequently mixed together in much of the modern media so that the facts become suspect because they get colored with opinion.

The advent of blogging has only exacerbated the problem. This situation creates a seedbed for ideologies to fester. Unity gives way to divisiveness.

Q: How can the Church be more effective in communicating its message through media that are often hostile, or at best indifferent, to many of the positions taken by the Catholic faith?

Burleigh: Pope John Paul II wrote the book on how to use the media effectively.

He understood that these world levers of communication are essentially neutral tools and can be turned to good purpose. Employing them with consummate skill, he became arguably the most respected figure on the world stage.

Admittedly, one finds hostility and bias in some parts of the media but it is far from pervasive, as the late Holy Father proved. Journalists work in a secular world. By its very transcendent nature, religion is a difficult, unfamiliar subject for them to cover. It does not conform to the everyday formulas of newsgathering.

But this should not mean that the Church and media become ships passing in the night. Churchmen need to engage the media and not cower from it or be afraid of those who work in it.

Q: What recommendations would you have for lay Catholics who work in the media as to how they can transmit their values, and at the same time be accepted as professionals?

Burleigh: Catholic journalists must first strive to be the very finest professionals that they can possibly be. They must be able to excel in their chosen field. Then the integrity and values that animate them will speak for themselves.

Q: What advice could you give to a faithful Catholic who wants to make good use of the media?

Burleigh: Use the media critically and with caution. Understand the strengths and limitations inherent in its various forms. Try not to demonize it or see plots where they don't exist.

At the same time, recognize where the minefields do exist. As citizens and Church members, modern Catholics have an obligation to be well informed -- to live in the light of truth and not the darkness of suspicion and ignorance.


Catholic Online CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000



Church, Media, Newspaper, Burleigh, Scripps

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.