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New Media Conference

Posted: Wednesday, April 9, 2008

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Father Roderick Vonhögen, founder of the Star Quest Production Network (SQPN), speaking at the Franciscan University of Steubenville's Media & Faith Conference -Photo by Don Tracy

STEUBENVILLE, OH- Catholic professionals specializing in radio, video, print, and Internet communications gathered at Franciscan University of Steubenville April 4-5 for “Faith and Media: Engaging the Culture,” a conference designed to explore the opportunities and challenges for the Church in the age of “new media”—Internet, podcasts, blogs, and other rapidly developing communications technologies.

When it comes to opportunities, Father Roderick Vonhögen believes the Church has never had more means at its disposal to engage the culture.

The podcasting Dutch priest and founder of the Star Quest Production Network (SQPN) pointed out that it takes less time and less money to produce podcasts, blogs, Web sites, and online “communities,” than to produce television and radio programs or print publications. Which makes it all the easier for cash-strapped dioceses, apostolates, and even individual Catholics to broadcast the Gospel far and wide.

“We all can be media makers now,” Vonhögen said.

Presenters also discussed ways Catholic media can improve the quality of what they produce— “If the Food Network can make a compelling show about mushrooms, why can’t we do the same about confession or Mass?” asked Father Vanhögen—as well as how to integrate new media technologies into the old media—that is, television, radio, and print journalism.

Attendees at the conference included Franciscan University students, students from other Catholic and Christian colleges, and active and would-be producers of religious new media. In the spirit of the event, live streaming video was provided of the major talks, which was picked up by viewers around the world. These presentations can still be viewed at

Other presenters included Greg and Jennifer Willits, founders of the award-winning Rosary Army Catholic Podcast, and Sharon Kennedy Brownrigg, cofounder of one of the first Catholic radio stations in the U.S., who helped lead a discussion on “Radio and Faith in the New Millennium.”

This was the second Faith and Media Conference hosted by the Communication Arts Department at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

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