‘Media decides, then reports’

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.

She concludes:

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.

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6 Responses to ‘Media decides, then reports’

  1. Jim says:

    I’m sorry but the more and more I hear, the more facts that come out, the worse it looks. I just hope it isn’t too late. My heart aches as a Catholic. Not only for the Sex abuse scandel but for how the left wing has taken over our social concerns and related committees where left wing politics have trumped and trampled over fundamental right to life issues. In the end perhaps good will come of all of this though purification which is much needed.

  2. David Walz says:

    I’ve been politically active for decades, even ran for office a couple of times. Yes, the media does decide what it wants to report and then reports it. Welcome to the real world. It’s a rough and tumble world out here where evidence, not fancy clothes nor an expensive palace matter. In the real world truth is not the sole province of a single, mortal, aged, sheltered, fallible man. Each one of the articles cites documentary evidence … none of this is pulled out of thin air. All the Vatican has to offer is name calling, playing the victim, blaming the victim, invoking the devil (how pagan!), and blaming everyone else who’s not involved (e.g. the sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll of the ’60’s … how lame, and the secular behavior of the Irish parents of the children raped in Ireland … how despicable a charge). The Catholic Church is prodigious at the political smear campaign. Ignore the facts, just smear the persons character and reputation … what a low-life scumball. Politicians know it’s time to smear your opponent if he’s winning on the facts. The Catholic Church has taken no actions, nothing has changed (other than words), and has been unable to produce evidence (even forged and fabricated evidence) to counter what has already appeared in the press. All of this indicates that the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, and priests are guilty as sin of the crimes they’ve been acused. And they’re trying to lie their way out of a jam.

  3. Brian says:

    Shouldn’t this situation give us a lesson on how Fox News, WorldNetDaily, and talk-radio decide and then report? Media Bias cuts both ways.

  4. anthoy farao says:

    For many of us it is not slant that the various news agencies will present, nor is it so much the scandal of the abuses (although horrific) it is, I am most sorry to say, the witnessing of such outrageous defeneses for Benedict, namely that “he did not know of the re-assignment of the pedophile priest in his Munich diocese and that the Vicar assigned the pedohile without consultation with his superior” Carl Ratzinger did not get to where he is today by choosing to be out of the loop on such important issues within his jurisdiction. I for one am shocked at such deception….my catholic faith has taught me , and I have accepted, that healing best comes about by the painful, but eventually soothing, salve of TRUTH ..yet it does not appear as the esssential component to this challenge of the intergity of our Church.
    May our Bishop be a voice of truth in the midst of all this apparent panic to save the hierarchial image. Christ, first and then all other things will be added. Px

  5. Brian says:

    Who here is able to address Anthony’s remarks? They should be taken very seriously. Praytell, what exactly was going on in Munich?

  6. Mary says:

    Claiming that “nothing has changed” (um, Canon Law was revised in 2002 as a result of the US Bishops’ insistence) and that the Church “forged and fabricated evidence” (substantiate, please, and be sure you authenticate the forgery/fabrication), accusing the Pope on down of “lies”, David has made some extreme claims. And on what basis? How much research has David done on this matter, and with how much critical depth? Does he read Italian and Latin, so that he can review the documents in question in their original and not rely on problematic translations–a huge issue in one of the cases, where “in strictu sensu” was translated as “secret” instead of “in the strict sense” (referring to Canon Law). David’s entire comment reflects very poorly on one who ran for public office.

    Brian, my understanding is that when Ratzinger was appointed bishop of Munich, he had to depend a great deal on the personnel who were already in place. This only makes sense! He was a scholar, coming from academia to a pastoral office, not knowing the clergy or the situations. You would hope that any new leader would allow himself to learn from those who had greater experience than he and not just take all the reins in hand at once. And so it happened that the bishop was informed that an abuser was being permitted to stay in the diocese for treatment. This being 30 years ago, therapists had more confidence in their art than was warranted, and after the course of therapy, the doctors pronounced the man recovered. A diocesan official later allowed the former abuser to do limited ministry (this diocesan official took full responsibility and stepped down from his position). Two points need to be kept in mind: Ratzinger was a new bishop, and so at a point in his role where he had to rely on the more experienced members of his staff (this normally works very well) and the priest in question appears not to have betrayed the expectations of his doctors: no further charges have yet come to light. Not that he should have been in such a situation, but thanks be to God no further harm came from it.

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