Kuangchi Program Service (KPS) responded to an invitation from Taiwan’s Chinese Regional Bishops Conference to conduct a three-day training workshop on “How to Deal with the Media” in January. The workshop, held at the new Bishops’ Conference building in Taipei, was attended by the bishops and their diocesan representatives/spokespersons as well as the Secretary of the Conference. The goals of the workshop were to enable Taiwan’s bishops to make more effective use of the secular media and to provide them with essential skills and procedures to be used when crises arise in their dioceses. This workshop was similar to the workshop that KPS conducted in 2012 for the Hualien Diocese, but this time the focus was primarily on the role of the Bishop.
Professor He Jyaju, a KPS board member and former news and public relations manager at China Television Service, provided the bishops with a detailed overview and analysis of the media environment in Taiwan, backed up by the most recent statistics and developments.
Fr. Jerry Martinson, S.J., vice president of KPS, conducted unprepared “ambush” interviews with individual bishops on sensitive and controversial topics, followed by prepared interviews on their personal experiences as bishops. These interviews were videotaped by KPS’ TV crew and played back so that they could be analyzed and evaluated. Methods of effectively relating stories and personal experiences were stressed in these sessions. Fr. Martinson also introduced a handbook, translated into Chinese by KPS, “Managing Your Reputation -- A Guide to Crisis Management for Church Communicators” by Dr. Jim McDonnell.
Bishops and their assistants were also invited to take part in a simulated press conference and a TV panel discussion, conducted by Xie Rongqian of Radio Veritas’ Mandarin Service and a former reporter for Taiwan’s China Central News. These sessions were also videotaped, played back, and evaluated.
Fr. Emilio Zanetti, S.J., shared a lively music video he recently produced for a Catholic high school in Taipei that helped the school raise a substantial amount of funds. This presentation served as a vivid example of the ‘media language’ so appealing to today’s youth, and of how media can be used as a bridge to communicate with and give a voice to young people today.
The bishops were encouraged to follow the late Cardinal Paul Shan’s urging that such workshops be held regularly.