In the National Catholic Register (which you can distinguish from the other NCR because the Register is Catholic), there is an offering by our friend and recent recipient of a WDTPRS coffee mug Fr. Dwight Longenecker about priests and blogs… something I believe I know a little about.
Fr. Longenecker makes a good distinction, which it is useful to repeat here. He is talking about the how older forms of social communication connect with people compared to newer forms:
The term “broadcast” applies to “casting the net” [The image Pope John Paul used when speaking about the use of the internet.] as well as the simple method of sowing seeds by casting them wide across the field. While these images work well for traditional broadcasting, we should be aware of the fundamental shift that is going on within the world of media.
The shift is from “broadcast” to “narrowcast.” Put simply, the old method of publishing — radio, television and film production — was to produce the work and then send it out to the widest possible audience. It was expensive to produce a book, a radio show, a movie or television program, so the producer had to distribute his work to a vast audience in order to make a profit.
Technology now allows us to “narrowcast” instead of “broadcast.” Anyone can produce a “radio show.” It’s called a podcast, and it costs virtually nothing.
I can produce video clips just by talking to my laptop, which has a built-in camera and microphone. I can produce leaflets and articles and distribute all of this material instantly to a global audience through the Internet.
While broadcasters distributed widely to a comparatively local audience, narrowcasters distribute globally to a narrow audience. [While this is certainly true in the case of most bloggers, some are using those same simple tools but are able to reach a very large "field" or "catch" indeed. So, this doesn't have to be perceived as a narrow audience.]
This shift means that audiences for all forms of Internet media are selecting not only what they want to view, read and listen to, but also when they want view, read and listen. [While they always have, this is a good point. There is so much out there, and it is so much easier to get at from the desktop or a phone, people are choosing what works for them within the parameters of their time and interest. Think about how TV was 40 years ago. There were a very few channels... and mostly nothing on. Now there are zillions, and mostly nothing on. But you can choose your nothing from a greater range. I am facetious, but you get my drift. Talk radio changed radio. The phenomenon of cable news and satellite dishes has changed news. The blogsophere is another effect. Alternative media are very influential.] This is a very important distinction, and one that impacts how priests should use the Internet for evangelization.