Diocese Merges Communication Operations Into One Company

The Diocese of Brooklyn’s communications strategy took another giant leap forward recently when the two boards of directors overseeing print and broadcast operations met together for the first time and agreed to merge into one group.
The board of directors of the 103-year-old Tablet Publishing Co. and the board of Trans Video Communications (TVC) voted to merge into one board of directors that will oversee the diocese’s new communications entity, DeSales Media Group, Inc.
Msgr. Kieran Harrington, Vicar for Communications, will be the chairman of the new board of directors. Arthur Dignam, a business executive with decades of experience overseeing mergers and acquisitions in the media industry, will be the new chief executive officer of DeSales Media Group.
“We’re unifying the diocesan voice,” said Ed Wilkinson, the editor-in-chief of The Tablet and newly appointed news director for DeSales Media Group. “The synergies of having a common communications entity will benefit not only our news gathering but also the material we produce, whether it’s in the newspaper, on television, or over the web.”
The strategy of DeSales Media Group is similar to the goals of the New Evangelization set forth by the Vatican. The new company consists of the current array of TVC media platforms as well as The Tablet all working together under one roof at New Evangelization Television (NET) and its state-of-the-art communications center that also houses the diocesan spokesperson. The media center is one block away from diocesan headquarters on Prospect Park West.
Wilkinson said that he already sees how the synergies envisioned in the media merger are playing out. Reporters for The Tablet, for instance, have been utilizing digital cameras to shoot video that can be used in evening TV broadcasts.  All journalists, whether print or broadcast, are now under one roof and sharing sources and collaborating on breaking stories.
Still, Wilkinson said, die-hard fans of The Tablet should be rest assured that the newspaper will retain its distinctive editorial identity. Not to mention the fact that popular shows like Currents will be as entertaining and informative as ever. It’s simply that there is more efficiency behind all of these media products, he said.
The creation of DeSales Media Group is the successful culmination of a mandate by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio to the then-newly installed Vicar of Communications, Msgr. Harrington, to take a disparate group of communications outlets and merge them into one streamlined media source to serve the Diocese of Brooklyn.
What Msgr. Harrington says he discovered was that although advances in communications technology now mean that virtually anyone is a few mouse clicks away from any piece of information in the history of the world, the diocese wasn’t using such technology as effectively as it could have to get to know Catholics across the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.
Plus, the popularity of tech items like the Apple “Confession App” among Catholics is proof that young people in particular are looking for new ways to connect themselves with the Church, said Msgr. Harrington. One of the hallmarks of his media strategy has been to avoid the pressures to make TV broadcasts and newspaper columns one-way streets. “Someone else might have a different opinion,” he said. “We can’t enter into a dialogue when we don’t recognize that there is other news to be heard.”
Dignam was initially asked by Msgr. Harrington to speak to the various communications department heads at an all-day planning retreat in February of this year. During the retreat, Dignam outlined the many challenges each department would have to anticipate as they moved forward with the merger plans and how best to tackle these issues. He shared stories from his experiences in corporate America that included facilitating the acquisition of NBC by General Electric in the 1980s.
One of the many synergies the diocese anticipates, as the result of the creation of DeSales Media, is that it will function as a full service communications company with a strong emphasis on media.
“We are excited for the services that we are projected to roll out in the next year,” said Msgr. Harrington. “It is an exciting venture and will only further promulgate the Gospel message to Catholics through new media.”