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Salesian Guild 2017 Speaker Deacon Greg Kandra on communications in todays world

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Deacon Greg Kandra (Photo by Gail Finke)
Deacon Greg Kandra (Photo by Gail Finke)

Catholic blogger and Brooklyn, NY, Deacon Greg Kandra told writers and other area Catholic communicators gathered for the annual Salesian Guild dinner January 28 that media has changed drastically in the past 40 years – and not for the better.

A former producer at CBS and current multimedia editor for the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, Kandra said that storytelling is as old as humanity, but that “how we tell our stories, and why, and for whom” differs over time. Today, he said, too many people tell stories from one perspective, for a particular group, and pay no attention to anyone or anything outside their self-imposed limits.

While newspapers, television, and radio networks once employed armies of professionals, he said, today’s iterations are run on shoestrings and compete with commenters, bloggers, podcasters, and others who broadcast their work with little more equipment than a cell phone, and who are accountable to no one.

How should Catholic communicators work in this free-for-all climate? Kandra gave three suggestions:

1. Seek truth. Don’t simply look at events from your “silo,” but look for it everywhere, with open eyes, open ears, and open hearts.

2. “Put out into the deep” – venture to places you don’t usually go, meet people you don’t usually meet, and tell their stories.

3. Do not be afraid. “So often we react or act out of fear,” Kandra said. “This is how wars are waged, on the battlefield but also online.”

Kandra noted that the Guild’s patron, St. Francis de Sales, wrote that God willed the Incarnation first and foremost to communicate to man. The job of Catholics in communication, he said, should be to take Christ as their model and communicate Him to others.

The dinner was the 73rd for the guild, which is named for the patron saint of writers. Membership is free to any Catholic writer or communicator in the Archdiocese, and the group’s only activity is the annual dinner.

Held this year at St. Francis Xavier Church downtown, the dinner also featured a talk on communications law by Michael Marrero, a partner at Ulmer & Berne, LLP. The Guild presented its Communicator of the Year award to Michael D. Pitman, a political reporter for Cox Media Group Ohio.

This year’s planning committee included: Dan Andriacco, Lisa Biedenbach, Elizabeth Bookser Barkley, Nancy Berlier, Marie Gemelli-Carroll, Linda Jackson, John Kieswetter, Ameila Riedel and John Stegeman.

Communications professionals may join the group at its Facebook page.

Recipients of the Guild’s Communicator of the Year award pose with a cutout of Pope Francis. From left: Father. Bob Hater, Dan Andriacco, Michael Pitman, Elizabeth Bookser Barkley,, Marianne Zeleznik, John Keiswetter, Patricia Frey.
Recipients of the Salesian Guild’s Communicator of the Year award pose with a cutout of Pope Francis. From left: Father Bob Hater, Dan Andriacco, Michael Pitman, Elizabeth Bookser Barkley, Marianne Zeleznik, John Keiswetter, Patricia Frey.
(CT Photo)
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