Argentina's cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, elected Pope

ROME – The Vatican has appointed former Hong Kong  Gov. Chris Patten as head of a committee to advise Pope Francis on how to improve media strategy in the digital age.

Patten, 70, who is also the former chairman of the BBC Trust, will head up the 11-member Vatican media committee which will seek to improve the Vatican’s wide-range of media outlets, which comprises daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican TV Center and Vatican Radio.

At a Vatican City press conference the Holy See’s new head of economic affairs, Cardinal George Pel, said the committee’s goals will be to revamp and modernize Vatican media and develop a digital strategy to help boost the number of faithful reached, currently estimated at around 10% of the global total 137 million Catholic population. He said he expected the committee to “recognize that the world of the media has changed radically and is changing.”

Vatican Radio, for example, broadcasts in 40 languages and accounts for a big portion of the Vatican’s media budget. But “no longer in most parts of the world do people listen very frequently to the radio,” the cardinal said.

Last year the Vatican hired international consultancy McKinsey to prepare a report on how to improve Vatican communications. The new media committee, which will become operational in autumn, will review that report, the Vatican said.

They also have an external media adviser, Greg Burke, an American former Fox News correspondent hired two years ago.

The Vatican already has a number of Internet sites and Twitter accounts, including @pontifex, from which Pope Francis tweets to his more than 4 million followers. But they will be using more digital media to reach a wider, younger, audience, even hoping to expand its reach beyond practicing Catholics.


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