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Study into press freedom


Former Adelaide priest Rob Carey, who headed the Catholic Communications team for eight years, has completed his PhD thesis on Freedom in the Catholic Press – a case study of the Melbourne Advocate in the 1960s.

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Undertaken through the Monash University’s School of Social Sciences, the thesis explores the “new vision for the Catholic press” that took shape around the time of the Second Vatican Council.

“A spirit of openness encouraged by the Council prompted certain editors of Catholic weeklies in Australia and around the world to call for a more open dialogue in their newspapers and for a better representation in the pages of their newspapers of the diversity of views and practices within the Church,” Mr Carey writes.

Describing it as a “liberal project” of Catholic editors rather than an organised movement, Mr Carey outlines the conflicts that arose between editors and proprietors as the “limits of editorial freedom were tested”.

He relies heavily on interviews conducted over five years with
Dr Michael Costigan, former associate editor of The Advocate, as well as the insights of other editors of Catholic newspapers, including Fr Bob Wilkinson from The Southern Cross.

The thesis concludes with a consideration of how the liberal project’s “ultimate failure” casts light on the “serious failures of accountability that have afflicted the Catholic Church more recently”.

Mr Carey currently lectures in photojournalism at Monash University.


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