In this week’s podcast Issues Etc. host Todd Wilkin and I discussed three recent GetReligion stories: Doggie Masses offered by Inclusive Catholics in Australia, one-sided reporting on Missouri's Amendment 2, and the parole of Michelle Martin. Todd opened the show asking why I had lambasted the coverage of the Public Prayer Amendment in Missouri in the report from RNS. The gist of my response was that the article was unbalanced. Offering man on the street responses from Columbia, Missouri (a liberal university town not representative of the state as a whole) was unwise. Having three "no's" to one "yes" quotes when "yes" garnered 83 per cent of the vote was a text book case of how not to use man in the street quotes. The preponderance of negative coverage was in inverse proportion to the amendment's support. A political reporter should not allow his own feelings of disgust with the ignorance of the electorate to color the story.
Our discussion of the coverage of the Inclusive Catholic Mass in Melbourne centered on whether or not the author of the article was making sport of the subjects of his story. I could not answer the question. If I had wanted to ridicule Inclusive Catholics I would have written the article the way the religion reporter for The Age did by showcasing the foolishness of the geriatric hipsters in the story. Todd suggested the reporter may have written the article in a sympathetic tone -- and what I found absurd the reporter found enchanting. So we are left with the mystery of ridicule or reverence.
The discussion of the parole of Michelle Martin touched mainly on the diversity of the Belgian press -- Catholic, secular, liberal, conservative. The original report in GetReligion prompted discussion in the wider blogosphere that I followed with great interest.
Writing in the American Conservative, Rod Dreher's article "Belgian Nuns Help Free (Sort Of) A Monster" showcased the sharply divided opinions about the underlying story. It also pointed out the limits of GetReligion's coverage which focuses on the reporting, not on the underlying story.
This can be frustrating at times as there is a latent opinion journalists in every reporter -- but at GetReligion we are charged with reporting on the reporting. However, part of the fun of appearing on Issues, Etc., is that I can let fly every so often with an opinion about the issues.
So GetReligion readers, drop on by the Issues, Etc, podcast page and hear me
make fun of Inclusive Catholics offer sober analyses of religion reporting.