Shannon Mullen
Shannon Mullen
" As Catholics, we are about the true, the good and the beautiful. With all the distressing things in the world, I think we need good news more than ever. "

If the name Shannon Mullen rings a bell to newsreaders around the Trenton Diocese, it’s likely because his byline topped more than 1,000 articles including hundreds of front-page stories while employed at the Asbury Park Press for 33 years.

Ranging from breaking news to human interest features to multi-part investigative stories on a wide range of public policy issues, Mullen’s career includes 10 years as an Investigative Reporter, Enterprise Editor, and Premium Content Coach with Gannett Co., where he was a member of a reporting team that was named a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize.

As of a few weeks ago, Mullen, a member of St. Peter Parish, Point Pleasant Beach, will bring his well-honed skills and experience to his new role as editor-in-chief of Eternal Word Television Network’s Catholic News Agency.

With news bureaus across the United States, Europe, South America, and Africa, CNA is one of the largest and fastest-growing independent Catholic media outlets in the world. EWTN acquired CNA, and its Spanish-language sister agency ACI Prensa, in 2014.

Based at EWTN’s Washington, D.C. office, Mullen’s day now begins at 6:30 a.m. as he checks in with the Rome Bureau and “doesn’t wind down until 9 or 10 p.m.” when he checks out with the Denver office where most of the reporting team is based.

Mullen left the APP/Gannett Co in December to complete a master’s degree in public policy from Liberty University. He said his final 10 years with APP at Gannett prepared him for this unanticipated opportunity and he made the most of it when it came along.

“I love the wide focus,” said Mullen, who commutes from Washington to the home he shares with wife, Eileen, and their four children in Brick for the time being. “A great aspect of the job as editor-in-chief is that it’s really day to day, just managing the flurry of breaking news. It’s a bit like being a traffic cop. You have so much stuff bombarding in – reports from different parts of the country and the world.”

Charting a Course

What set him on the path that eventually led to CNA was the “good fortune to be raised in a Catholic family that took faith seriously,” he said, noting that his parents, John R. And Diane Mullen, nurtured the Catholic faith as integral to family life. He and his four siblings were all educated in Catholic schools.

“Our parents were very good role models,” he said. “The Church was a big part of family upbringing.”

Mullen noted that going to Duke University in North Carolina was “a big thing for me.”  He explained, “It was the first time in my life I had been in a non-Catholic environment. I found it so different that it was tough for me. It was really important to go to Masses at the Newman Center” and engage in the Catholic community there, he said.

“I hung onto my faith in college but it all but paled compared to the impact of my wife, Eileen, who had a similar upbringing and a much deeper personal faith that continues to be a huge influence on me.”

As a young reporter during these years, Mullen said he drew great inspiration from Pope John Paul II.  He found the pontiff’s annual remarks on World Communications Day especially inspiring.

“He emphasized that even those in the secular media could serve as apostles in the cause of human dignity, justice and the pursuit of truth,” Mullen said when his recent appointment to CNA was announced. Mullen’s coverage has included investigations into deplorable living conditions in federally subsidized rental housing, the exploitation of the elderly by legal guardians, and a heartbreaking teenage suicide cluster that terrorized a small community at the Jersey Shore.”

Vision for the Future

As editor-in-chief, Mullen is managing CNA’s reporting for its news syndication service, and its extensive social media news audience. He’s also seeking to foster greater collaboration between CNA’s news coverage, and the reporting of the National Catholic Register, EWTN News Nightly, EWTN News In Depth, and other major news outlets within EWTN.

Instead of just reacting to the news, he aims to “look ahead and be prepared for what some of the issues will be."

Issues of paramount importance throughout the Church Universal ranging from religious liberty, to the persecution Christians face around the world to the weakening of parental rights when it comes to religious education are among them, he said.

Another goal, he said, is to shine light on the “ordinary people in the Church who are doing extraordinary things in lay ministries and apostolates,” he said. “As Catholics, we are about the true, the good and the beautiful. With all the distressing things in the world, I think we need good news more than ever.”