The activities of SIGNIS in the field of cinema follow those developed by OCIC, the International Catholic Organization for Cinema. OCIC was created in 1928 to co-ordinate the work of Catholics active in the cinema world. The organization built a strong tradition of writing and publishing on film which included reviewing, critique, commentary and evaluation and consumer information that is still very much alive today, in print, on radio and television and on websites and social media. With film journalism and criticism SIGNIS is also integrating the field of cinema into media education. Many SIGNIS members have published books and theses on academic themes, pastoral activities through cinema and histories of local and national film cultures. Through its dialogue with the broad world of cinema, SIGNIS is a bridge between the Catholic Church and the professionals, making the presence of the Church in the cinema world more credible. In 1947, OCIC broadened its activities by participating in international juries at film festivals. Today, SIGNIS organizes SIGNIS, Ecumenical and Interfaith juries in more than 30 film festivals around the world, from the best-known, including Cannes, Berlin, and Venice, to more specialised festivals, including Mar del Plata, Zanzibar, Hong Kong, Fajr (Tehran) and Brisbane. Through this work it offers its members different professional opportunities. It also means that through these festival activities the organization can offer a space of continuous dialogue with Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, Jews, Hindus, Muslims and members of other religions. As SIGNIS defends cultural diversity in the media, it is aware of the importance of promoting the cinema and audiovisual productions of those countries or those minorities who are absent or almost unseen in the global media world. It also wants to help give a face to the faceless, to the creativity and to the stories of those who are invisible. Since the 1990s, Cinema, television, video and digital media have become parts of one interconnected technological and distribution system. SIGNIS cinema activities, therefore, necessarily overlap with its policies in relation to TV and video production as well as the internet and digital social media. By its presence in the professional cinema world, through international seminars and conferences, the organization of post production competitions for Latin American films, assistance in production, distribution of films through its network of television producers and distributors and conservation of the film heritage, SIGNIS contributes in a concrete way to the development of a cinema aimed towards human and spiritual values.
The rapid growth and expansion of the Internet, especially the World Wide Web and the emergence of social media, has fundamentally changed the media landscape. As an association of Catholic media professionals SIGNIS is exploring how best these new technology can be harnessed to serve the common good and enhance the quality of communication for the majority of people. Another of SIGNIS’ main objectives is to help reduce the digital divide between those countries closely "connected" to the global digital highways and those in the poorer regions of the world which are still struggling to “connect” to their own towns and villages. That is why SIGNIS Services Rome provides an Internet service via satellite that covers all of Africa: the VSAT system. SIGNIS provides its clients with equipment, including a small satellite dish and computers already configured to use the service. SIGNIS also offers its services as an Internet access provider, including SIGNIS e-mail addresses, telephone calls via the Internet, and access to the web. In addition, SIGNIS trains the personnel who run and maintain the equipment. SIGNIS also promotes and participates in activities and events bringing together Catholic communicators involved in new information technologies. SIGNIS is working to use the potential of the Internet for distance education and to build a real global network of learning that will link individuals and communities across the digital divide.
Media education should be seen as a movement from a critical awareness of the languages and techniques of the media, through analysis of the values they project and their influence on our lives, towards a responsible participation in the use of media for the betterment of the person and society. The areas covered by SIGNIS in this perspective are very diverse: advertising, radio, popular music, film, television, video and Internet. A media educated person is able to create his or her own media statements, to engage confidently with media producers and to exercise actively his or her rights as a democratic citizen. So it is understandable that this work is one of the most important fields of action of SIGNIS. The SIGNIS Media Education Project aims to bring together worldwide experiences and achievements in this field. SIGNIS members want to come together to use financial, material and human resources more effectively so that they can give a coherent response to the "onslaught of national and global media" on people and cultures across the world. SIGNIS wants to build a world network of media educators and/or media education organizations – something which doesn’t yet exist. The predecessors of SIGNIS, Unda and OCIC, had a very long tradition in this field. In the 1950s, for example, Fr Lunders of OCIC was a founder of CIFEJ (International Center for Films for Children and Young People); in the 1960s and 1970s the organizations supported the Plan DENI initiative in Latin America and from 1989 to 2001 Unda produced its Educommunication Magazine. International SIGNIS juries are at the Zlin Festival (Czech Republic), which promote quality media content for children, and some National members (e.g., Argentina and Uruguay) have juries in these types of festivals in their own countries. In 2004, in Rio de Janeiro, SIGNIS joined the movement of the World Summit of Media for Children and Adolescents. Since then, SIGNIS has been present in three more of those summits: Johannesbourg (2007), Karlstad (2010) and Kuala Lumpur (2014). The next one will be in 2017 in Manchester.
“Journalism is an act of faith in the future.” Anne Curry Since 2014, SIGNIS has aimed to offer a place of exchange and solidarity for those Catholics working in all forms of journalism and publishing. SIGNIS aims: to promote ethical professional journalism in the new multimedia era to build a global network for Catholic journalists working across different media in different regions. to strengthen solidarity and personal ties among Catholic journalists through regular sharing of stories and information to support freedom of expression and the rights of journalists SIGNIS is the only international Catholic association for media professionals, including journalists, recognized by the Holy See. Sound, image and the written word merge across media. Lines between consumers and producers of media stories blur. Not only media are interconnected. Globalization links countries, cultures and peoples in new and intricate ways. What then are the challenges for the professional journalist? How can responsible, quality multimedia journalism be upheld both internationally and locally? What does working in a converging multimedia globalized environment mean for the Catholic journalist? For his or her identity and professionalism? SIGNIS is organizing seminars in different regions of the world to bring together Catholic journalists to explore and debate these and related questions. The first discussions were held in a Journalism Workshop entitled Multimedia Journalism in Diverse Cultures: Forming Catholic Journalists for a New Era at the SIGNIS World Congress in Rome in 2014. Since then, workshops have been held at the SIGNIS Europe Assembly in Krakow, Poland in July 2015 and at the SIGNIS Asia Assembly, in Sri Lanka in August 2015. In 2017, a seminar entitled Building Bridges between East and West: SIGNIS European Journalism Seminar will be held. In early 2017 an Asia Journalism Seminar will be also be organized. “The courage in journalism is sticking up for the unpopular not the popular.” Geraldo Rivera
Radio, especially community radio, remains one of the most effective forms of media in the world today and is especially important in parts of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific. SIGNIS supports the development of community radio and Catholic radio stations, and promotes existing radio networks and associations. There are dozens of Catholic radio networks and associations across the globe. Some of these networks, especially in Latin America and Europe, have existed for some time now. Others, in particular in Africa, have only come into existence within the last three years. SIGNIS does not intend to establish its own Catholic radio networks. Rather, SIGNIS seeks to reinforce existing networks and encourage interaction between networks to enhance the shared learning experience. SIGNIS policy is one of subsidiarity and promoting professional collaboration. SIGNIS members in Latin America have been in the forefront of the development of community and educational radio in the region. The community radio networks in Latin America are legendary in their creative use of radio for development and the promotion of human rights. In Africa, SIGNIS supports an expanding network of radio stations. In 2003, SIGNIS held its first workshop for Catholic radio stations in Cape Town, South Africa. In 2005, SIGNIS facilitated a second workshop for French speaking radio stations in West Africa in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Moreover, at the SIGNIS World Congress 2005 in Lyon, a workshop was devoted to catholic Radio Networks. A seminar for Eastern and Southern African radio stations organized by SIGNIS in 2006, focused on creative production for conflict resolution and peace building. SIGNIS seminars and workshops enable local FM radio stations to debate creative ideas, appreciate and review production techniques and share problem solving solutions. They generate communities of practice that stimulate creative production in community radio stations in Africa. In addition, SIGNIS Services Rome has traditionally provided technical consultation and equipment to radio stations, especially in Africa.
SIGNIS wants to support the production and distribution of quality TV programmes throughout the world. To achieve this goal, SIGNIS is organizing Seminars that bring together TV producers, programmers and channels searching for opportunities for co-production or collaboration. SIGNIS follows the tradition of Unda (the former International Catholic Association for Radio and Television) in awarding the best of television in festivals: at the international television festival of Monte Carlo, at the Prix Italia and at the Plural + Festival. The Monte Carlo Catholic television festival eventually lead to collaboration with WACC (the World Association for Christian Communication) in holding, every three years, a European Festival of Religious Television Programmes, hosted by different national public broadcasters. SIGNIS also collaborates with the Catholic Radio and Television Network (CRTN) .