Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Media reaction to Jeremy Corbyn leadership reveals a country run for the few, not the many

It is interesting to watch the establishment media seek to pick away at the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. They are really struggling to attack the policies, so routinely have to resort to the irrelevant personal abuse such as about Corbyn not singing the national anthem and something McDonnell said about the IRA in 2003.
When they do engage on policy, everything has to be measured against the moribund neo-liberal lexicon that has brought a fundamentally unstable country that boasts 130 plus billionaires, while more than a million people go to foodbanks.
The whole new approach of Corbyn and co is most refreshing, providing signs of hope and a real insight into what a lot of claptrap really does go on in this country to maintain a status quo that favours the few and not the many

Monday, 28 September 2015

West Ham 2-2 Norwich

Bilic declares West Ham are not a big gun

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic seemed to be trying to lower expectations after this hard fought draw with Norwich City.
Bilic intimated that the clubs recent impressive away form that has netted wins at Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal may have some thinking West Ham are up there with the big boys. “We’re not one of the big guns, we have great players but have to work our socks off every game,” said Bilic, who likened Norwich to West Ham’s previous conquerors at home: Bournemouth and Leicester. “These teams are disciplined, energetic and aggressive,” said Bilic, who despite the sporadic home form forecast that his team would have more home than away wins come the end of the season.
Norwich drew first blood when in the eighth minute Mark Noble poked a hopeful ball into the middle of his own back line. James Tomkins stretched but failed to reach the ball, which was picked up by Robbie Brady, who drove home under home keeper Adrian. Johnny Howson and Cameron Jerome then wasted good chances to stretch the visitors lead.
It was the 23rd minute when West Ham struck back, the industrious Diafra Sakho switching the ball out to the right where Dimitri Payet was able to advance and measure his cross for the onrushing Sakho to sweep home.
The striker then had a chance to put his side ahead, after keeper John Ruddy had failed to make the cross only for Sakho to scoop over.
At the other end Adrian pulled off a point blank save from Jerome, who met the cross from Howson.
It was the 81st minute when Norwich took the lead, substitute Nathan Redmond picking up the ball from a corner and drilling it into the far corner. West Ham though were not to be outdone, continuing to press on into injury time, they were finally rewarded when Ruddy saved but the ball fell nicely for Cheikhou Kouyate to sweep home.
Norwich manager Alex Neil was pleased with his side though admitted “it was a pity we didn’t see it out.”

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Artists and ethical investors celebrate at the Human Nature exhibition in Soho

Abundance supporters and artists gathered for the Human Nature exhibition at the Art of Progress gallery in Greek Street, London, last night.
The Human Nature exhibition started on its travels in London last December, going to Leeds and Bristol before coming to the Art of Progress, where it will reside until 27 September.
The exhibition arranged over three floors shows artists exploring the changing relationship with the environment. Among the exhibits are three pictures of a goshawk, little owl and reed warbler by London based street artist ATM. The bird theme was continued by Jane Laurie with a striking picture of a barn owl set above a bed at the exhibition.
On the top floor there was film maker Dorothea Gibbs short film, Natural Reality 2:1. Dorothea delves into how the online world has the power to connect people but also create a strange disconnected world of virtual reality.
Among those attending the Abundance Generation sponsored evening was environmentalist Jonathon Porrit, who sampled the relaxation area where people could sit and mediate, conjuring up visions of being on a Norfolk beach.
The evening offered an excellent opportunity to view the artistic exhibits and talk about the state of the renewable energy industry, presently under assault from the government with its pro-nuclear and fracking approach to energy security.
Abundance has been one of the companies seeking to counter global warming by setting up a number of sustainable projects across the land involving solar and wind energy.
Abundance launched in 2012, since when almost 2,000 people have invested £11 million funding 12 projects so far.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Jeremy Corbyn needs to empower grass roots Labour members by redemocratising the party – failure to do so will see the thousands walk away

There are certainly many challenges facing the Labour Party under the new leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.
It has been a roller coaster year for the party, first the hope of winning the election in May, only to see that dashed with the Conservatives narrowly getting home with a 12 majority (yes 12).
Recrimination quickly followed, with Ed Miliband being obliged to fall on his sword as leader, after undergoing a sustained campaign of character assassination in the national media. Miliband’s resignation led to the leadership election, which after a scrabble for nominations, saw Corbyn emerge triumphant.
The Corbyn campaign seemed to re-energise the party, bringing in thousands of new members, many of them young.  Corbyn hit a cord with his basically old labour message of socialism, social justice and equality for all. After being declared leader a further 50,000 joined the party hoping for better things to come. An urgent question now though is how to energise that support.
There are questions as to what the new members want or are prepared to do. In my own Labour Party branch, the secretary wrote to all of those who have joined since May and not one wanted to come to a meeting or get involved. They just joined to support Corbyn.
In another ward, of those who had joined since May, just one showed up to a recent meeting, confirming the same trend. So there is clearly a job of work to do.
Not all the criticism though should be targeted at the new members.  Afterall not everyone wants or can give up their Friday nights for constituency meetings or other meetings.  Some people don’t like pubs, there are even those who don’t like Indian restaurants. Not everyone is comfortable engaging with the public but there are many other things to be done.These factors need to be taken into account if the party wants to get more people involved.
My own experience since rejoining a couple of years ago is not I think untypical. We have a good branch and constituency party, where for the most part people pull in the same direction. There have been campaigns for the local council and then the general election. These elections have involved getting out onto the streets and making the case locally.
In the local election, a Labour council was returned. The problem for many in the local party is that for much of the year that followed election, a lot of the campaigning zeal was absorbed in trying to stop the Labour Council doing various Tory things, like privatising a music service for youngsters and refusing to refer a decision to close hospital wards to the Secretary of State for Health.
More than one member of the local party felt a little disillusioned having sweated to get the Labour councillors elected, only to then have to effectively campaign to get them to do the right thing. People committed to the type of socialist policies now being put forward by the Corbyn led party are those who should be representing the party at all levels from councillors to Mps and Meps.
There is then the continuous bombardment of emails from the Labour Party seemingly from all levels. It is galling to receive an unsolicited email from the party leadership addressing you as though you are some intimate friend. The message though is usually the same, namely come out and help, failing that, or as well as that, donate.
One of my favourite messages was one asking why I had not donated. Members of the party in the main are grown up people who really don’t appreciate being treated as children. The party needs to ask itself some serious question regarding communication and how to get people involved. Afterall what other organisations asks people to give freely of their time and then also pay for the pleasure?
There is also a feeling of disempowerment.  Many people spend many hours doing the voluntary trooping round the streets knocking on doors, delivering leaflets and attending meetings. What they want usually is a say in what is going on in the party, a say in policy.
They don’t want to see career politicians who have left university to become researchers for MPs and/or special advisors on the way to securing a safe seat. There is a total disconnect at the moment in the party between those doing the work on the ground and those they are working to get elected. This gap must close.
Jeremy Corbyn has many challenges facing him at the moment but moving forward the party must re-democratise its structures, returning policy making powers to the conference. There is also a need to get people selected to stand as MPs who reflect the people they are seeking to represent. More working people, who have lived some life, less career politicians, who simply learn how best to manipulate the system. People committed to the type of socialist policies now being put forward by the Corbyn led party are those who should be representing the party at all levels from councillors to Mps and Meps. It will only be by making changes that genuinely involve all the members in the processes of the party that those new members will be genuinely empowered to work for a Labour government. Corbyn has stirred the soul of the Labour Party, he now needs to make sure that the thousands of members (new and old)  are empowered to make that vision a reality.  

Friday, 18 September 2015

Challenges facing Jeremy Corbyn leadership

Jeremy Corbyn faces three major challenges as leader of the Labour Party.
The challenges will come from the Parliamentary Labour Party, a hostile media and the Conservative government. Ironically enough it is the third of these that may prove the easiest to combat.
The opposition of much of the Parliamentary Party is a real problem. There is the party within a party known as the Progress group, which seeks to keep the flame of Blairism burning bright. This group has taken something of a battering, with Liz Kendall, its representative in the leadership election, only attaining 4% of the vote. Members of the group have so far been prominent in the exodus of former shadow cabinet ministers to the back benches, having suddenly rediscovered the need to spend more time with their constituents. When they get over licking their wounds, Progress are likely to continue to represent the enemy within for Corbyn.
Among other MPs there will also be opposition, though this may be more easily dissipated. The MP is first and foremost a creature driven by the need for self-preservation. As such, many MPs will be willing to give the Corbyn agenda a chance just to see if in the long term it might profit their own personal position and ambitions. Some no doubt will make a miraculous conversion to left wing politics almost overnight. Corbyn has already shown an aptitude for inclusivity bringing the likes of Ed Miliband's former chief of staff Lucy Powell in as shadow education secretary and former Tony Blair chum Lord Charles Falconer as shadow justice secretary.
Then there will be the left of the party who have backed Corbyn. They are the ones taking up shadow cabinet positions, moving forward. The appointment of John McDonnell as shadow chancellor is the most significant sign of this element so far. 
The second problem area will be the media. The hostility to anything other than the mainstream neo-liberal orthodoxy has been clear for all to see over the period of the leadership election. Corbyn has received virtually unanimous hostility from across the mainstream media. Even the Guardian, which many expected to at least operate a level playing field has done its best to give voice to opposition to Corbyn. In the end the paper – not a Labour supporting publication over the years – felt the need to guide its readers by backing Yvette Cooper for the leadership. The Mirror backed Andy Burnham, whilst the Independent did not made a recommendation.
The old mantras about the 1980s and such like are likely to continue with the media. Where things may change is if the transition from simply a leadership campaign for a left candidate continues to become a mass movement for an anti-austerity agenda. So if the 600,000 eligible to vote in the leadership election morphs into a couple of million or more, enthused further by what it sees from a Corbyn led Labour Party then some of the media – particularly on the liberal side of the market – will start to change their hostile position. The growth of membership thus far has continued with 15,000 new members in the day after Corbyn's election to become leader.
The Conservative Party may not be as happy as some in the media have prophesied with a Corbyn led Labour Party. It is not difficult to imagine David Cameron being rather non-plused by Corbyn at Prime Minister Questions. A man failing to rise to person vitriol, attacking from a position grounded in social justice and socialist based principles.
The sort of dilemmas that Corbyn could face as leader with all three of these challenges could come together on the subject of the European Union. So far he has declared that he would campaign to quit the EU if Dave Cameron's renegotiation is about "trading away workers’ rights, trading away environmental protection and trading away much of what is in the social chapter."
The EU as presently constituted represents the embodiment of neo-liberalism. Indeed, if Corbyn wants to achieve many of his policies, such as renationalisation rail and the utilities, then remaining in the EU probably won’t be an option. The country would need to get back control over its own sovereignty.
But what if Corbyn were to set a steady ant-EC course putting himself at the front of the no vote campaign come the referendum. It would cause consternation amongst the Tories who are already split on the issue. In the country, it would help bring back the Labour core vote that has deserted to UKIP. The policy would also be popular with many of Labour’s traditional opponents. Such a stand would not be popular with the SNP in Scotland but again would set Labour out as distinct and apart from the Scottish nationalists and their version of anti-austerity politics.
The biggest problem Corbyn would have would be with his own party who are overwhelmingly pro-Europe. It could be another cause for splits. So a policy that could really appeal to the wider electorate in the country and split the Tories may founder on the need to keep the Parliamentary Labour Party unity. So the issue of Europe nicely illustrates some of the problems Corbyn will face moving forward.
What does seem for sure is that winning the leadership of the Labour Party is only likely to be the start of the challenges facing Corbyn. The need to square the circle of keeping Parliamentary party unity and opposing the Tories whilst winning support in the country will be the real challenge. But if the left agenda that Corbyn leads continues to draw in support across the generations then dealing with all the issues will become a lot easier.

see: New Internationalist - 15/9/2015 - 

Meeting the challenges and making the changes - Jeremy Corbyn can expect to find in his post-election in-tray" - tribunemagazine.org/tribune magazine - 25/9/2015

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Comprehensive win for Payet inspired West Ham

West Ham 2-0 Newcastle Utd

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic  was clearly relieved to get his first home win behind him after the two previous shock defeats against Bournemouth and Leicester.
West Ham were the better team from the start, though this may have been aided by Newcastle only arriving at the ground 20 minutes before the kick off. The Geordies tried to get the kick off put back 15 minutes but the Premier League were having none of it.
Bilic was pleased that his side played with pace, skill and were solid in both defence and holding Newcastle in their own half. “It was a big relief to get the win at home, great for the confidence,” said Bilic, who was full of praise for man of the match Dimitri Payet.
The manager told how he had been a fan for a long time, trying to sign Payet for Besikitas last season. Bilic said he had made it clear to West Ham’s owners that Payet was his first choice and he was surprised when the signing was completed in five days. “He is a player who gets goals but also makes players around him better as well,” said Bilic.
The French international has settled well to the Premiership, adding two goals in this game to his previous strike. Most of West Ham's swift passing football had the little Frenchman at the heart of it.
It was the eighth minute, when a neat back heel from Diafra Sakho set up Mark Noble to square the ball for Payet to sweetly curl the ball into the top right hand corner from the edge of the penalty area.
Another constant threat to the Newcastle rearguard came from debutant Victor Moses, whose pace down the left regularly opened up the visitors.
The second half was just two minutes old when a headed clearance from Winston Reid was seized on by Moses who outpaced the defender to unleash a vicious shot which bounced back off the bar. The ball fell kindly to Payet who placed it into the net.
Newcastle were not an entirely impotent force but the couple of times they broke free, saw keeper Darren Randolph thwart the efforts.
Newcastle boss Steve McClaren was unhappy with the result and the refusal of the Premiership to put back the kick off. “We lacked quality in the final third. We didn’t do the basics tonight, which we have in the first four games,” said McClaren who said he was looking for a big reaction in the game next Saturday.

Friday, 11 September 2015

CARJ make two staff redundant after bishops cut Racial Justice Sunday collection

The Catholic Association for Racial Justice (CARJ) has been forced to make two staff redundant and reduce co-ordinator position from a full to part time role, after the Bishops Conference of England and Wales (BCEW) decided that the organisation would only receive a part of the Racial Justice Sunday collection.
The changes have seen national co-ordinator Rosie Bairwal and schools project development worker Charlene Fraser (part time) made redundant, whilst administrator Gloria Oham has been reduced from a full to part time role.
Previously, CARJ received the entire RJS collection which is taken on Racial Justice Sunday each year – traditionally the second Sunday in the month. Last year, the BCEW decided that part of the collection would go to its own Office for Migration for its work in combatting trafficking and modern slavery.

The office for Migration is headed by Migration Bishop Patrick Lynch, who is also president of CARJ. “The Bishops’ Conference is exploring the most appropriate ways of using the monies collected from the Racial Justice Sunday collection, according to the changing needs around racial justice and social integration in England and Wales. The monies are currently distributed between CARJ and the Office for Migration Policy, as explained to parish priests in a letter from the CATEW chairman Archbishop Malcolm McMahon in 2014. The Bishops continue to review their strategic priorities and fund those priorities accordingly. Any budgetary decisions will be ratified at the next Bishops’ Conference plenary in November,” said a spokesperson for the Catholic Bishops Conference.

Established in 1984 to promote the voice of black and minority ethnic Catholics in the Church and beyond, CARJ later became an agency of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales. Over recent years, CARJ has had a growing reliance on the RJS collection, with it accounting for more than 75% of its income. The collection for RJS came to £106,000 in 2013 and £105,000 for 2012.

“CARJ has been in existence for more than thirty years.  We began life with very little funding, having to rely on the voluntary energy of those committed to racial justice.  More recently we have enjoyed the support of parishes through the Racial Justice Sunday (RJS) annual collection,” said Mrs Sutton. “The Bishops have now asked us to share the income from RJS with some others in the Church doing similar or related work.  This will leave us, for the foreseeable future, with reduced staff capacity and a need for increased voluntary involvement.  We hope the situation will be temporary and that we will be able to find new sources of financial support," wrote Yogi Sutton, chair of CARJ trustees in a communication to members. “Meanwhile, our commitment has not changed.  We are determined that the work should continue to grow, deepen and thrive.   It is clear that the coming years, in a changing world and with a new government, will offer a range of old and new challenges.  We ask for your support as we seek to face those challenges creatively.  We will be in touch with you in the near future to explore possibilities for effective action and creative partnership in the struggle for a more just, more equal, more cooperative society.” 
- published Catholic Herald - 11/9/2015

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Keeping the faith

Britain's Catholic publications are looking for new readers. ~Can they find the answer that has eluded so many of their secular counterparts?

Church attendance continues to slide but the Catholic press fights on.
There are four newspapers and a new major online presence.
The combined sale of all four papers comes to around 85,000, set against a Church attendance of 850,000, which suggests that one in 10 church goers also buys a paper.
But like so many publications in this digital age, the titles are under pressure. Could the arrival of the energetic and charismatic Pope Francis help Catholic journalism find a new generation of readers?
The print publications, with the exception of the Catholic Times, have a long and esteemed history.
The weekly magazine the Tablet has been celebrating its 175th anniversary this year, with a series of events, including, a mass at Westminster Cathedral, lectures and other celebrations. It has a circulation of 20,000, as well as a growing online presence. In many ways the magazine could be described as the New Statesman of the Catholic world, liberal and slightly left of centre politically. It has been edited since 2004 by Catherine Pepinster, who previously worked on the Independent. The papacy of Pope Francis has been good news, with his pronouncements on social justice and many other areas of Catholic doctrine being more in line with the Tablet and its readership.  
The Catholic Herald is at the other end of the spectrum. Founded in 1888, it is very much the publication of right wing Catholics. Owned by Conrad Black and Rocco Forte, the paper has been edited since 2004 by Luke Coppen. The previous conservative Pope Benedict would be more to the taste of Herald readers, who struggle with some of the more liberal utterances of Pope Francis.
The Herald recently dropped the weekly broadsheet format in favour of a magazine combined with an upgraded online presence. Circulation stands at 20,000 to 24,000, with readership claimed to be 45,000. The Herald claims to have put on an extra 1,000 subscriptions since in it moved to the magazine format last December. “We now focus on breaking news stories daily online and providing news analysis, features and punchy comment in the magazine,” said Luke Coppen, editor of the Herald, since 2004.
The paper that claims the largest circulation is the self-styled Catholic Universe with 30,000. Established in 1860 by the writer Archibald Joseph Dunn, the Universe has seen circulation decline from the halcyon days of the 1950s when it used to sell 300,000 copies a week..
The Universe has traditionally been a tabloid, taking in both traditional and liberal views in the church – though over recent years it has appeared to veer to the right. Editor since 1992, Joe Kelly recently took the paper down the route of moving to the Berliner format, signing up to a deal with Guardian Media Group to publish the paper at its production centre in Manchester.  
The latecomer to the newspaper market is the Catholic Times (CT). Established in 1993, the CT is also published by Universe Media Group (UMG). Produced virtually single handed by long time editor Kevin Flaherty, the CT was originally aimed at the Catholic Herald market, however, it has carved out its own niche as a right wing broadsheet. UMG roll out 10,000 copies a week. The CT is the only one of the Catholic weeklies that does not have an online presence.
Finally, there is the one woman band that is Independent Catholic News (ICN). This is an online only product that has been going now for 15 years. It is the one production that has grown extensively over the past decade, moving up to the point where it attracts four million hits a month from 230,000 visitors. ICN though struggles to create a business model that works, generating little revenue beyond what it takes to meet editor and founder Jo Siedlecka’s costs. “ICN is funded by a few subscribers, a few donations, a couple of grants and advertising,” said Siedlecka. “The advantage to being just online is that it means we can be really flexible. If something happens we can report it very quickly, Its cheap to run and has a instant worldwide reach.”  
The miracle of the Catholic press over recent years is that not only have the four newspapers survived but that the presence has actually increased with the arrival of ICN on the scene. That said it is a market that is in decline. The average age of the readers is rising in a way that mirrors the decline in the numbers going to church.
The distribution structure has been something that all the titles have struggled with over the years. The main outlet for the Catholic Herald, Universe and Catholic Times has been very much the churches. So the churches provide a ready made distribution network but this has pluses and minuses. Few churches promote the Catholic press in anyway, as a means for say the laity to play a fuller role.
Instead, the papers for the most part just lie at the back of the churches, many remaining unread. There is also the disadvantage that the unaccountable authoritarian structures of the Church mean that if a paper offends a particular or number of parish priests they can cut off the supply line without redress.
The papers have tried to address the vagaries of this distribution network by using the secular outlets such as newsagents as well but this has been of limited success.
The limitations of the church distribution network in terms of obtaining a return on exposure were aptly demonstrated back in the 1990s, when the then media friendly and well networked editor of the Catholic Herald Cristina Odone was getting huge exposure in the national media. Odone would be a regular on programmes like Question Time, the Late Review and Any Questions, as well as writing in the Telegraph but this exposure did not feed back into sales of the Catholic Herald. It was a real weakness that those who may have been attracted to the paper had to go into a Catholic church to buy a copy – Odone’s exposure certainly did not, as it should have done, resulted in better sales.
The dependency on the churches has never been as much of a problem for the Tablet, which has a higher proportion of subscriptions (86%) making up its sales. The Tablet has a large number of Anglicans among its readership. It also draws a lot of its readership from the international forums, particularly the United States. “The four British Catholic titles are all serving different markets and so in some ways we are not competing. I think our competition nowadays is more with other titles abroad, given that people can so easily access the Catholic press online. So we are as much keeping an eye on Commonweal and National Catholic Reporter in the US as we are on the Herald here,” said Catherine Pepinster, editor of the Tablet. 
The limitations of the church distribution network though remains a problem for the other three print publications – though less so the Herald, now it has a bigger online emphasis.
Former Guardian religious correspondent Stephen Bates believes that the more traditional titles like the Catholic Times and Universe survive because they have the same sort of resilience as a paper like the Daily Express. “They have an old and declining readership, that wants to be comforted and told that things are going to stay the same,” said Bates, who believes Pope Francis is good news for the Catholic press as well as the Church itself. “The Catholic Church was getting mired in gloom and paedophilia. Pope Benedict was not a regenerational figure. Francis has done a lot to re-energise the Church,” said Bates, who believes the Francis papacy represents increasing problems for the right wing publications like the Catholic Herald but is good news for the Tablet.
Bates sees the need for the Catholic publications to develop their online presence more, as with much of the secular press, if they want to continue. Failure to do so will see the papers die out, at about the same time as most of their current readers.
Religious commentator and former Times journalist Clifford Longley sees many of the same problems in the Catholic sector as face the secular press. These include primarily the need for a greater online presence and then how you make money out of that medium.
A major question though going forward has to be whether there is a limited shelf life for the sector with a revenue return for a sustained period, until the readers die off or if there is a real possibility to draw in new readers. The jury on these questions is out.
Longley sees one possible lifeline for the Catholic press with the influx of migrants to the UK. The incoming numbers from countries like Poland have boosted church attendances in a way that has not happened with the Church of England. Longley though points out that migrants have not yet turned into readers. “They may do in a generation or two, “ said Longley. Though the Catholic media generally has been slow to reflect the diversity of a Church whose racial make up has changed massively over the years.
Longley believes that the survival of the Catholic press is essential to the life of the Church. “It is the only obvious channel for the clergy and laity to respond on things that matter to them,” said Longley, highlighting the hierarchical unaccountable structures of the Catholic Church which does not have a decision making body like the Church of England’s synod.
Looking forward Longley sees the Tablet as the paper most likely to profit from the papacy of Pope Francis, with its more enlightened take on the faith chiming with that of the new pontiff. He believes the Herald will continue to struggle with Pope Francis. In terms of the Universe Media Group, Longley describes the publications as “rather directionless,” choosing in the main to adopt a partisan, almost party political approach, of “whatever our lot are doing is good.”
Pepinster is not despondent about an ageing, falling churchgoing population and is optimistic about the opportunities offered by new migrant arrivals. “The challenge is to find ways of engaging that new potential readership. It may take a while, but if they follow in the footsteps of previous Catholic migrants, they will enjoy a good education thanks to Catholic schools, and hopefully will become the next generation of high-achieving, graduate professional Catholics that make up our readership,” said Pepinster. “The difficulties we face are to do with being a small publication with limited resources in a media world that offers people huge amounts of information. If your potential audience can get so much online, for free, then are they going to opt for you if they have to pay? That means we have to offer better analysis, more expert insights, more intelligence than you get for free. We do offer a certain amount of The Tablet for free in order to try and attract new readers - but the risk if that your free offer is so good, it won't translate into sales. And we need sales if we are to survive.”
Former news editor of the Universe and now editor of the not for profit quarterly Justice, Lee Siggs, believes the Catholic press is trying to perform a balancing act, seeking to grow their online audience, whilst making money from the web and not losing traditional readers “In some respects, all the Catholic titles have been more contemplative and feature-led in nature so perhaps this has safeguarded them from the more pressing demands facing the regional media to provide a fully-fledged 24-hour news operation,” said Siggs, who has been impressed with the moves made by the Herald, moving to a greater online emphasis and magazine format.
So interesting times for the Catholic media, as it continues to cater to an ageing readership via old and new mediums. The readerships it seems are old and loyal, and perhaps the challenge going forward is whether these outlets can harness the new life and energy generated by Pope Francis. If they can then the afterlife beckons, if not the revenue stream will no doubt dry up - disappearing as the readers depart this life.  

* published in British Journalism Review - 3/9/2015