News.va is counting clicks

VATICAN CITY — The first day of the launch of the Vatican’s new news portal, www.news.va, registered more than a quarter of a million clicks from more than 200 countries in the world.

Twenty-four hours after the site went live when Pope Benedict XVI tapped “publish” on an electronic tablet June 28, the site was been tweeted more than 77, 300 times and “liked” on Facebook by more than 7,000 people.

The story with the most hits (16, 454) was a Vatican newspaper article reflecting on Pope Benedict’s recollection of his priestly ordination, which he had called “the most important moment of my life,” which is also the headline of the Osservatore Romano article. The launch of the news site was meant to help celebrate the pope’s 60th anniversary of his ordination June 29.

Not surprising is that the vast majority of viewers chose to read the site in English rather than Italian — the only two languages currently available. As we reported earlier, other languages like Spanish will be gradually added later.

Paulist Productions brings Catholic voice to mainstream media

Paulist Productions aims to provided uplifting and inspiring family value programming that reaches a wide audience.

Paulist Productions is run by the Paulist Fathers, a religious community that for years has been involved in producing films and using print and broadcast media for evangelization. Its website states that they “do not condemn culture, nor do they try to conform the Gospel to it.” Instead, the Paulists “preach the Gospel in new ways and in new forms, so that the deep spiritual longings of the culture might find fulfillment in Jesus Christ.”

Actress Betty White stars in a scene from "The Lost Valentine," a Hallmark film co-produced by Paulist Productions. (CNS photo/courtesy CBS)

Paulist Productions does not exclusively use Catholic actors or writers, nor is its programming specifically designed for Catholic audiences, making its programs well integrated into mainstream media.

“We want the Catholic values out there, but we’re not trying to preach to the pew. We want to reach everyone,” Marybeth Sprows, director of development, told Catholic News Service in a phone interview.

Father Eric Andrews, president of the company who came on board less than two years ago, would really like to get a TV series out there.

Sprows explained that Father Andrews’ predecessor, “had more of an interest in documentaries, so that was his bent on the company, and then it sort of ran its course.”

Now, the company is interested in producing a series that is “realistic to what’s going on in the world,” said Sprows.

“I feel like we could do a show that would speak to teens and just about regular problems that happen with family. There is definitely a strong market out there.”

Sprows has worked on hit shows such as “Seventh Heaven,” “Alias” and “Lost.”  As the director of development at Paulist Productions, she develops projects and pitches new ideas to networks, studios and writers to proclaim the Catholic voice in the media.

“I think there are so many great people out there in the entertainment industry, whether they are Catholic or not. Sometimes you equate goodness with religion, but there are still really good people and they have morals and are kind and generous … it’s inspiring,” said Sprows.

“I’m very appreciative my family raised me Catholic. You work long hours in this business so you want to be with good quality people. Those people are there, Catholic or not.”

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