So let's say that you have this New York Times story over in column A. Click here and you find this very basic and predictable political update on one of the mini-scandals of the day. And here is the lede by reporter Stephanie Strom:
An internal report by a lawyer for the community organizing group Acorn raises questions about whether the web of relationships among its 174 affiliates may have led to violations of federal laws.
The group, formally known as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, has been in the news over accusations that it is involved in voter registration fraud, charges it says are overblown and politically motivated. Republicans have tried to make an issue of Senator Barack Obama's ties to the group, which he represented in a lawsuit in 1995. The Obama campaign has denied any connection with Acorn's voter registration drives.
Meanwhile, you have this other story over in column B, which would be one of the many niche news wire services out there that lead to interesting, if obscure, posts in weblogs. Click here and we read, via reporter Dennis Sadowski and the Catholic News Service:
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development suspended funding a nationwide community organizing group after it was disclosed June 2 that nearly $1 million had been embezzled.
Funding was suspended for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, popularly known as ACORN, because of the financial irregularities, said Ralph McCloud, executive director of CCHD, the U.S. bishops' domestic anti-poverty and social justice program.
"We're not funding them at any level," McCloud told Catholic News Service Oct. 15.
The suspension covers all 40 ACORN affiliates nationwide that had been approved for $1.13 million in grants for the funding cycle that started July 1, 2008.
The key, of course, is that these two stories have not been combined anywhere that I have found -- please correct me if, in my haste, I am wrong.
Instead, they exist in separate media universes. Rare is the Catholic who will hear about these issues, because even the most faithful of parishioner is more likely to hear information in the mainstream news stream than in Catholic niche media.
If you search the story in the Times for the word "Catholic," you get -- nothing.
If you run a Google News search for "ACORN," "Catholic" and "funding" you get all kinds of material, but all of it -- you guessed it -- in the world of tiny niche media where American Catholics and pro-Vatican Catholics duke it out week after week, month after month, year after year, world without end. Amen.
Is there a religion ghost here? What are the legal and financial ties between Acorn and other mainstream religious groups, drawing money from offering plates and ecclesiastical bureaucracies? And this question may be even more interesting: Is this struggle over Acorn and Catholic money linked, in any way, to the doctrinal debates inside the American church over Obama's stance on abortion and gay rights? That's the question that matters the most to me. That's the religion story.
Hmmmm ... I wonder what the coverage of this will be like on Comedy Central? That's what really matters, I guess.