Catholic News Service is a leading agency for religious news. Our mission is to report fully, fairly and freely on the involvement of the church in the world today. CNS staff members and stringers are professional journalists who adhere to ethical practices and standards of the trade.
Catholic News Service has a rich history of journalistic professionalism unmatched in the Catholic world. And it continues that tradition today by offering one-of-a-kind products and services.
CNS was founded by the U.S. bishops in 1920, but it was clear from the start that the bishops wanted it to be an authentic news agency. The founding director was Justin McGrath, a veteran journalist and managing editor of the San Francisco Examiner who also had worked at The New York Times and other dailies and was Washington bureau chief of the Hearst papers.
Bishop Philip R. McDevitt of Harrisburg, Pa., chairman of the bishops’ press department, summarized the news service’s philosophy in 1927. He said its main purpose was to provide Catholic newspaper editors with “full and accurate reports of happenings of interest to Catholics.”
Meeting the needs of those editors — the main subscribers to CNS — has been our chief goal. But through the years the news service’s expertise has also led it to develop other breakthrough products, such as Origins, the CNS Documentary Service that, since 1971, has been chronicling the history of the church through full texts of speeches, encyclicals and other documents.
The CNS Rome bureau covers the pope and the Vatican like none other. A CNS correspondent always accompanies the pope on trips outside of Italy as part of the pool of reporters on the papal plane.
Another jewel of CNS is its photos and graphics service, which, thanks in part to digital imaging and the impact of the Internet, has grown tremendously in the last decade.
In the Internet age, CNS is showing a new audience the accuracy that has always been its hallmark. But because CNS is not a public relations vehicle and is not subsidized by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, it must be financially self-sustaining.
CNS continues to call itself “authoritative and Catholic, but not official.” And according to a promotional brochure issued in the 1930s, the news service’s aim was simply to report on current Catholic thought and events, and not to be a “publicity bureau.”
The same holds true today.