Got news?

Mirror-image news: SMU activists suffer attack which draws zero news coverage

Mirror-image news: SMU activists suffer attack which draws zero news coverage

Let's play the mirror-image news game again, shall we? Click here for previous examples.

As always, the goal is to look at a story that received next to zero attention, or perhaps received waves of attention, and then try to imagine what would have happened if a few details were switched and journalists were dealing with a different issue on the opposite side of America's so-called culture wars.

This time around, let's say that the AIDS memorial quilt was displayed in Dallas in a high-profile location that would be sure to generate lots of attention -- like the center of campus at Southern Methodist University. Then, during the middle of the night, a pack of counter-protesters descended on this display and attacked it, doing major damage.

Would this story have received major coverage in local media, such as The Dallas Morning News? We will take into account the fact that displays of the AIDS quilt have been going on for decades and, thus, the event itself may not have been a major news story. But would an attack on the quilt be news?

It's safe to say that this attack would have drawn coverage. Correct?

Now, let's flip the news mirror around and consider these details from a story published by the alternative -- yes, conservative -- LifeNews.com website. The headline: "Pro-Abortion Students at SMU Vandalize Display of 3,000 Crosses to Remember Aborted Babies."

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Zero news coverage? Episcopal Church's new leader cleans house (including a possible spy)

Zero news coverage? Episcopal Church's new leader cleans house (including a possible spy)

Let's play a journalism game for a minute, one that we have played before here at GetReligion (for an example, click here). We call it the mirror-image game.

Let's assume, for a second, that the Southern Baptist Convention elected a new president. Then, shortly thereafter, three of the convention's top leaders were purged -- perhaps the phrase would be "placed on administrative leave" -- because of accusations of misconduct while on the job.

Oh, and there were some really strange and shady things in the recent past, like reports of top Southern Baptist leaders spying on each other -- literally.

Do you think that this story would receive any mainstream coverage? Would that draw coverage in The New York Times, the Associated Press and/or regional newspapers?

What if the official Southern Baptist press agency all but ignored the story? Would that serve as a red flag for mainstream coverage, or would that be an effective signal to reporters that there is "nothing to see here, so move along"?

What if this happened at Focus on the Family? Or how about the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops?

Now let's look in the mirror image. Way back on Dec. 11, the new leader of the Episcopal Church -- Presiding Bishop Michael Curry -- released a letter, care of the denomination's official news service, that said in part:

I need to inform you that on Wednesday I placed on administrative leave Bishop Stacy Sauls, Chief Operating Officer, Samuel McDonald, Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Director of Mission, and Alex Baumgarten, Director of Public Engagement. This is a result of concerns that have been raised about possible misconduct in carrying out their duties as members of senior management of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Holy Screwtape! Young C.S. Lewis secretly worked with MI6?

Holy Screwtape! Young C.S. Lewis secretly worked with MI6?

I don't know about you, but for years now I have grown increasingly skeptical about a lot of the books and other products that continue to roll out from the publishing industry that surrounds the life and work of the great Oxford don and Christian apologist C.S. Lewis.

Don't get me wrong. I have an entire room of my house that, basically, is dedicated to Eastern Orthodox icons, my family and C.S. Lewis. My son's middle name is "Lewis" and we almost used "Jack" as his first name. I read "The Great Divorce" every year during Lent.

But, honestly, it's almost like we've reached the point where people would publish an annotated edition of this man's grocery lists, should they become available. There are still fine books being published about the Narnian, but I've grown more skeptical about some of work produced by the C.S. Lewis industrial complex.

And then someone comes up with an interesting twist in the life of Lewis. In this case, Christianity Today has just published an online essay -- by scholar Harry Lee Poe of Union University here in Tennessee -- that is a bit of a news scoop. It argues that, while no one is claiming Lewis ever ran around with a gun and a decoder ring, the young Oxford don appears to have done some work for MI6, as in Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Yes, you read that right. This kind of adds a new layer of meaning to discussions of an "Inner Ring" and talk about devilish high-ranking agents working with case officers to snare souls. Here is how it starts:

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Wait a minute! Chick-fil-A backed an LGBT film festival and drew zero coverage?

Wait a minute! Chick-fil-A backed an LGBT film festival and drew zero coverage?

Every now and then, I receive emails from readers asking me about some of this website's ongoing features. You know, the occasional posts with the special logos. Take, for example, our whole "Got news?" concept.

It's valid to ask this kind of question, since there are always new readers who are clicking into the site or readers who have been around for awhile, but don't remember when a particular feature started up and the rationale for why it was created. Should we run a paragraph at the end of these features every time that explains the concept?

Well folks, this one almost explains itself. What we have here is a classic "Got news?" story.

By definition, a "Got news?" item at GetReligion is something really interesting or important (or both) that we see online -- usually in a liberal or conservative denominational news site -- that leaves your GetReligionistas scratching our heads and wondering: "Why isn't this story getting any mainstream news coverage?"

So, you remember the Chick- fil-A wars, right?

There was a time when just about any story linking Chick-fil-A and homosexuality was going to to straight to A1 in major newspapers and it might even show up in evening news broadcasts. Battles continue, from time to time, whenever Chick-fil-A attempts to open franchises in intensely blue zip codes. These stories tend to draw mainstream news coverage.

Which brings us to this headline from the progressives at Baptist News Global: "Chik-fil-A challenged for sponsoring LGBT-themed film festival." (The unique spelling of the company's name is in the original.) Let's walk through the material at the top of this story.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Jewish lives matter: BBC, Al-Jazeera slammed for headlines on Palestinian attack

Jewish lives matter: BBC, Al-Jazeera slammed for headlines on Palestinian attack

The Times of Israel and the Israeli government went GetReligion on two networks -- BBC and Al-Jazeera -- for their mishandling of an attack on Jews in Jerusalem and the counterattack by Israeli police.

The drama began on Saturday evening, when a teen stabbed three people in Jerusalem, killing two and wounding the third.  Police shot the attacker at the scene. BBC then outraged many Israelis, including Israeli media, with its headline: "Palestinian shot dead after Jerusalem attack kills two." Sounded like the shooting had nothing to do with the attack. And that it mattered that the shooting victim was Palestinian but not that the stabbing victims were Jews.

After a public outcry, the news network changed its headline several times, but only drew more ire. The headlines weren’t cited in the Times, but they were by a group called BBC Watch, to which the article gave a link.

BBC's second headline was better but still tone deaf: "Jerusalem attack: Israelis killed in Old City 'by Palestinian.' " Looked like sarcasm quotes, meant to cast doubt.

Third try: "Jerusalem attack: Israelis killed in Old City by Palestinian," no quote marks.

Fourth try was the charm: "Jerusalem: Palestinian kills two Israelis in Old City."

BBC Watch still expressed ire: "In other words, professional journalists supposedly fluent in the English language had to make three changes to the article’s headline in not much more than an hour." The organization also faults BBC for not reporting that Hamas and Fatah praised the dead stabber, Mahannad Halabi. (Then again, neither does the Times of Israel in the story above.)

At least the article appears to get the facts straight:

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Got news? So this powerful cardinal claims he helped oust Benedict and elect Francis

Got news? So this powerful cardinal claims he helped oust Benedict and elect Francis

As Pope Francis-mania rolls into its final hours in the Acela zone, The National Catholic Register -- part of the Eternal Word Television Network operation -- has tossed a genuinely unsettling story into the news mix, along with its stack of glowing papal news reports. This shocker contains one or two crucial facts that cannot be denied, yet ultimately stands on the word of one very controversial cardinal.

The problem is that this cardinal has very little incentive, at this moment in time, to making an outrageous claim -- that he was part of an organized coup that all but forced Pope Benedict XVI to resign. The goal of the coup was to elect the man who became Pope Francis.

So, we have one of those "Got news?" stories that jumps straight into, you got it, conservative social media and news -- alone. The question is whether a similar story linked to a less popular pope would have, because of the timing, received major play in the American mainstream press. 

Here's the top of the National Catholic Register report by Edward Pentin, which apparently echoes coverage in La Stampa in the Italy. Read carefully. You are looking for the one word, and one word alone, that should matter to mainstream reporters evaluating this material:

Further serious concerns are being raised about Cardinal Godfried Danneels, one of the papal delegates chosen to attend the upcoming Ordinary Synod on the Family, after the archbishop emeritus of Brussels confessed this week to being part of a radical "mafia" reformist group opposed to Benedict XVI.
It was also revealed this week that he once wrote a letter to the Belgium government favoring same-sex "marriage" legislation because it ended discrimination against LGBT groups.

A quick comment: Passive voice in two straight paragraphs is NOT how a reporter builds credibility with savvy readers. But read on:

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Global religious freedom: Watchdog is threatened, and only religious media notice

Global religious freedom: Watchdog is threatened, and only religious media notice

It's a definite "Got News?" item when religious news outfits report the appeal of a major human rights watchdog to stay alive -- and almost no one else notices.

World magazine and Baptist Press this week wrote up a letter signed by 86 religious liberty advocate surging Congress to reauthorize the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. USCIRF, a semi-official organization that monitors how nations treat those of various faiths, was born by an act of Congress in 1998, but its mandate runs out on Sept. 30.

Both stories are spot-on in highlighting the need for such a voice. USCIRF is the group that releases an annual report on the state of religious freedom worldwide, red-lighting "Countries of Particular Concern." The reports, and interim statements, are often quoted in media reports on human rights.

The story by World, an evangelical newsmagazine, is the more political of the two:

WASHINGTON—A coalition of international religious freedom groups is urging the Senate to approve a six-year reauthorization for the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and reject attempts to cripple the organization.
Eighty-six partners of the International Religious Freedom Roundtable this week delivered a letter to the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which currently is weighing two drastically different visions for USCIRF. The letter noted the authors agree on “very little” theologically, but they agree religious freedom strengthens cultures, stabilizes democracies, and is “the ultimate counter-terrorism weapon.”
“The most effective way to ensure the continuity of USCIRF’s essential mandate to protect and promote religious freedom worldwide is for the Senate to pass, in a timely fashion, S. 1798,” the groups wrote to Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the Foreign Relations chairman, and Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., the ranking member.

World's article also does us the service of linking to the International Religious Freedom Roundtable letter itself. And World identifies who filed S. 1798: Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican candidate for president.

The Baptist Press version stars Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, part of the Southern Baptist Convention -- saying he "and his allies" with the Roundtable put out the letter:

Please respect our Commenting Policy

News? Handful of Democrats float a pro-woman plan to defund Planned Parenthood

News? Handful of Democrats float a pro-woman plan to defund Planned Parenthood

So, in terms of politics (as opposed to undercover videos), was there anything really new in the U.S. Senate debates over funding for Planned Parenthood and the mainstream media coverage thereof? What else can bored journalists (meaning those that have elected to ignore dozens of issues linked to quotations in those undercover videos) look forward to covering in other Hill debates on this topic?

Well, there was one small -- critics would say "tiny" -- wrinkle that might prove interesting, in the event of a close vote in the future.

As always, Republicans who are willing to take this dangerous political step will need to find a few allies on the other side of the aisle. Yes, honest. They need to talk to at least a few Democrats.

Thus, I found it interesting that Baptist Press -- yes, a conservative wire service -- ended up paying attention to some proposals by Democrats for Life. (Confession: Yes, I am a pro-life Democrat and have a donor's bumper sticker in my office.)

We live in a day and age in which the number of pro-life Democrats is so small that the mainstream press considers the actions of this group "conservative," even when its proposals are in some way economically progressive. Thus, Democrats for Life draws little or no mainstream ink, but is covered by the alternative conservative press (surf this Google file, if you wish).

So what did Baptist Press report as the key element of this proposal?

Please respect our Commenting Policy

European 'shadow council' calls for Catholic doctrinal evolution on sex and marriage?

European 'shadow council' calls for Catholic doctrinal evolution on sex and marriage?

One would think that a major gathering of progressive Catholic leaders, a choir of voices seeking major changes in ancient church doctrines on marriage and sexuality, would draw lots of coverage from the mainstream press.

Yes, readers will obviously need to keep their eyes on the work of some of the official journalistic voices of the Catholic left. And it might pay to set a Google News alert for the following terms -- "Pontifical Gregorian University," "German," "French," "Swiss," "family" and "divorce." Including the loaded search term "shadow council" is optional.

So, what's up? Flash back to the news about the strangely under-covered May 25  gathering of progressive European Catholic bishops and insiders (including journalists) to discuss proposed changes in doctrines linked to marriage, family and sexuality. What happened? It's hard to say, since many of the journalists did not report about the event that they attended.

Now, Andrea Gagliarducci of the conservative Catholic News Agency, has a report online based on the texts of some of the "interventions" presented behind those closed doors.

This sounds like news to me. Yes, it's one take on these materials and the lede is pushy. However, this is why it's important for the mainstream press to dive in and -- trigger warning -- do some basic journalism, talking to articulate, qualified voices on both sides of the current doctrinal warfare over sexuality in the Roman Catholic Church.

Read on.

Please respect our Commenting Policy