Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Catholic Dissent and MSM Swarming

8,000 Catholics gather for a Eucharisitc congress; scarecely a reporter shows up. 65 Catholic Dissenters line the steps of the same Cathedral to decry the Church's teaching on homosexuality; MSM frenzies around them.

St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that "Catholics claim bias in coverage."

Clearly, the Fools there have had enough:
Nearly 8,000 Roman Catholics overflowed the Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul last month for a daylong celebration of their most sacred ritual. Four days later, 75 gathered on the steps of the Cathedral of St. Paul to question church teaching on homosexuality.

Some Catholics are irritated that the second event garnered more media attention than the first, a long-planned Eucharistic Congress hosted by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

"It's news when people are attacking the teaching of the Catholic Church, but evidently it isn't news when people are celebrating the teaching of the Catholic Church,'' said Lisa Hambidge, a parishioner from St. Paul. "It just isn't balanced.''

Shocking revelations last month about a priest found responsible for two murders in Hudson, Wis., made the special Eucharistic celebration even more important to area Catholics, said the Rev. Joseph Johnson, an official of the archdiocese who helped plan the Congress.

"Some of their frustration may be, here's one terrible thing that one sick individual in the church did and it's front page every day, and then 8,000 people do something good and it doesn't get noticed,'' he said.

On the one hand, many Catholics hold fast to the unity they celebrate in Holy Communion — the subject of the Eucharistic Congress. But that unity is like a large umbrella, under which many lay Catholics actively question aspects of church teaching and practice, and therefore frequently find themselves debating and challenging each other — liberals versus conservatives, progressives versus orthodox.

Some feel caught in the middle.

"There are people on the fringes of so many things,'' said a discouraged Hambidge, who called the Pioneer Press recently to say that "clearly, people on either side aren't speaking for us.''

Yet reporters and cameras readily show up when 75 Catholics take to the steps of the largest church in the Upper Midwest to voice dissent.

"Just about any reporter who can fog up a drinking glass can go cover a protest,'' said Mark Neuzil, an associate professor of journalism at the University of St. Thomas. "It's a lot harder to cover 8,000 people at a Eucharistic synod, which is a lot more subtle and nuanced.''

Neuzil found merit in complaints about scarce coverage of the Eucharistic Congress, compared with the Catholic Rainbow Parents rally at the Cathedral.

"They're both news,'' he said. "It's probably not so much that the 75 got too much coverage. It's maybe that the 8,000 didn't get enough.''
What a hopeful sign this story is! A local organ of MSM reports on the shortcomings of their peers vis a vis Roman Catholics! Behold the equalizing power of the blogosphere in action! For if 20 million Bloggers or so weren't around--many of whom love tearing the MSM new A-holes for their biased and lackluster religion coverage--would MSM care if they didn't get the story right? Not as long as the Cha-Ching! factor rolled in high. In today's Brave New World, however, reporters can get scooped and fisked all afternoon. That erodes reader confidence. That sends the Cha-Ching factor into a nose-dive. Ask the publisher(s) of the LA Times how their rigid editorial position and "business-as-usual" coverage has worked for them; they've only lost, what, a third of their readership?

Perhaps the competition of citizen journalists will continue to encourage fair reporting from the Reasonable MSM. Dare we hope that such media one day even sound Foolish?