Media work amid the Covid-19 pandemic

THE CHALLENGES and opportunities faced by traditional print and new media have become more evident amid the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.

The diocese has suspended public Masses and while groups have organised online activities and liturgies, the faithful often search the Internet for information on the Church. Recently, some people, while practicing social distancing, launched communal prayer activities over the Internet. Despite being at home, they are virutually connected together by prayer. These are the characteristics and strengths of cyberspace.

However, while most of us might stay at home surfing on our mobile phones and computers, it would be constructive and fun if we could, in tranquility, pick up a book, newspaper or magazine to read instead.

The British newspaper, The Guardian, reported in early March that the global threat of Covid-19 triggered a sales boom in novels about epidemics such as Albert Camus’ La Peste (The Plague) and Stephen King’s The Stand. Then what is the reading trend of the Church like?

In the face of a gloomy market in general, a religious sister from the St. Paul Media Centre pointed out that their bookshop, situated inside a shopping mall near Prince Edward MTR station, has seen a dwindling number of customers. Most of them look for books on liturgy (to help with attending live-streamed Masses) and prayer books.

Reading can help reduce stress and to help people get into the world of literature, temporarily putting aside the stress of everyday life. Reading can slow down people’s fast pace and help them relax. A 2009 study of reading and health conducted by the University of Sussex in Britain, found that the effect of reading in reducing stress occurs faster than drinking a hot cup of tea and listening to music.

In tranquility and calmness, we can get closer to ourselves and listen to the word of God.

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the pace of society in many countries. Now, many European countries and the United States of America have imposed border controls or even locked down their cities, banning people from going outdoors without valid reasons. 

The plethora of information on Covid-19 is also a cause for disquiet. In Hong Kong, people worry about the outbreak. Due to long-term school closures, students have been staying at home. The declining market has affected the livelihoods of low-income citizens.

What is the role of the Catholic media under these circumstances? When disseminating information, it should promote unity and mutual help among citizens. It should help people cherish the importance of everyday life and human lives, and give a voice to the less fortunate who face uncertainty and may not otherwise have a forum to be heard.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. This Word must continue to be transmitted so people can see the joy, courage and comfort of the gospel even when in they through the dark valley fo the present times. 

Sister Teresa Yuen Sau-mei, the editor-in-chief of the Kung Kao Po and the Sunday Examiner, died on March 15. One of the longest serving editors-in-chief (2005 to 2020), she endeavoured to promote the role of both diocesan weekly newspapers in the formation of the faithful. Moreover, Sister Yuen encouraged engagement in writing and publications within the Church. For example, she personally planned and launched Writing Training Courses. During her time, both diocesan newspapers also began to also explore and embrace new media avenues of information dissemination. We pray for her repose. SE

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