As media landscape changes, the CMA aims to help members succeed

By Rob DeFrancesco on 9/12/2022

As a longtime editor and communications director, I always appreciated the rhythm of the calendar and liturgical year. In my head, the year would “start” in the fall, with students heading back to school and our part-time residents returning to Arizona from the Midwest, and “end” in June, following priestly ordinations.

As you can relate, this marathon is filled with joy, goodness and faith-filled moments that draw us closer to Christ and His Church, as well as times of heartbreak and challenge that we have all experienced, occasions from which we learn and persevere.

The short stretch in between the start and end points of the year was used to clear off my desk, reconnect with colleagues at the Catholic Media Conference, and get some rest and relaxation — one of the very, very few benefits of triple-digit temperatures is that it prompts people to leave town or hibernate to escape the heat, effectively shutting things down for several weeks. That figurative cooldown period, no matter how quickly it passed, was a welcome break.

I know I’m not alone in noticing that summertime is shrinking; the tools we embrace to assist us in getting more done are, in turn, compelling us to take on too much and squeeze from us every minute of the day. It can be a hardship as we are expected to do more with less.

A good indicator of how things are going was reflected in the program offerings at the recent Catholic Media Conference in Portland. We should not be surprised, then, that we had a four-hour Master Camp devoted to “Recognizing, Treating, Avoiding Burnout for Catholic Professionals” and that it was so well received. The same goes for “Brain-based Time Management,” “Communicating Beauty in a Time of Division” and the playful “How to Bring Humor and Fun to Your Publications” workshops. These are just a few examples that highlight the need for us to take a holistic approach to who we are as Catholic media professionals, not only focusing on new and innovative ways of communicating and improving our skills — of which there were many excellent workshops in that regard this year that generated a lot of enthusiasm and accolades! — but to recognize that we need to consider the whole person, including mental, social and spiritual wellness.

This year’s CMC — our first in-person event since 2019, our inaugural hybrid conference — generated a lot of enthusiasm and hope for the future. Here are just a few takeaways:

  • We witnessed firsthand the joy in people’s eyes and voices when reuniting with colleagues for the first time in years. The time in Master Camps and workshops is critical to our success, but the one-on-one time in hallways, sharing meals together, and especially in prayer at Mass is invaluable.
  • We experienced on a different scale the power that technology has in connecting those in Portland with virtual conference-goers across North America. Providing an option for members to attend virtually was a huge undertaking, but I would expect it to become a permanent part of the Catholic Media Conference.
  • A quarter of our in-person registrants were attending their very first CMC, which was extremely encouraging. We expect an even greater number of people next summer in Baltimore.
  • A younger demographic of members continues to make their presence known by speaking up and actively participating. What I am hearing is that there is an urgent desire for a mentoring program, where seasoned professionals would help develop future leaders through career guidance and spiritual direction. As someone who benefited from this earlier in my career, I wholeheartedly endorse such an initiative and would enjoy working with some pros to help make this a reality.

I want to take this moment to emphasize that the Catholic Media Association — through its Board of Directors, its committees, and the work of the CMA office staff — is here to help you and your organizations succeed in a time when everything is changing. Your questions, ideas, challenges and successes give us strategic direction, so please continue to contact us. Whether that’s me, your regional representative, or someone else on the Board of Directors, we want to hear from you. Also, I encourage you to take advantage of ongoing educational opportunities, webinars, and this vast network of journalists and media professionals who bring experience and new energy to Catholic media.

You are in my prayers as we start this new year and every day thereafter.

St. Francis de Sales, pray for us!

Rob DeFrancesco is executive director of the Catholic Media Association. Please send questions and ideas to:

This article originally appeared in the September 2022 edition of The Catholic Journalist.