An ‘A’ for accuracy?

During a Sept. 30 symposium in Washington on how self-described progressive Catholics can reframe media coverage of church issues, speakers talked about one thorny media problem for Catholics of all stripes: the shrinking number of reporters with religion as their beat.

Jesuit Father Thomas Reese, of Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, sends a weekly e-mail to religion reporters. He commented that every week “I get more and more bouncebacks” as reporters’ work-based e-mail accounts have been deactivated now that they no longer work for the publication.

Father Reese noted that some reporters newly assigned to cover religion are unfamiliar with knowledge of basic church matters that with other writers would have been taken for granted. When being interviewed by one scribe — the name of the news outlet will be withheld here since we are confident the writer continues to learn on the job — Father Reese said he was asked “what the difference is between a Jesuit priest and a diocesan priest.” Later in the interview, when Father Reese made a reference to “St. Peter, the first pope,” the writer asked him, “And what was his last name?”

3 Responses

  1. …nothing new, actually, about religion reporters who have few clues, particularly with regard to Catholicism…I think of the countless times I’ve read in newspaper stories that a priest “performed” Mass, for example…(sigh)…

  2. St. Peter … the Apostle, of course :)

  3. It is unfortunate that many reporters know so little about the Catholic Church. Perhaps each diocese should provide a short course on the doctrines of the Catholic Church at the state universities to give future reporters some knowledge of the Catholic Church. Perhaps a list of reference material for “wantabe” reporters would be helpful for them.

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