Mercy Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of media relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote an item headlined “Media decides, then reports” for The Washington Post’s “On Faith” blog today on media coverage of the sex abuse crisis. Her main point is that the news media show “a frightening naiveté” when they report on the release of documents by attorneys suing the church as if those documents were new or had just been discovered.
There’s a lot to be reported on child sexual abuse. It’s a sin and a crime and more prevalent in society than anyone ever dreamed before the 21st century. Some organizations, such as the Catholic Church in the United States, have made massive efforts to deal with it. People are learning how to spot abusers. The Catholic Church has educated more than two million people to do so. Children are learning how to protect themselves. The Catholic Church has educated more than five million children in this regard. There are lots of stories there. But such stories take time to report and plaintiffs’ attorneys make no money promoting them. And that, at least for now, isn’t news.
You can read her entire piece here. The issue is also addressed in another section of the “On Faith” blog, which describes itself as a “conversation on religion and politics.” There, several regular “On Faith” panelists weigh in this week on the question of whether the news media is being fair to the pope.