"Amen," to what Rod Dreher said

Tragically, this sad post speaks for itself. Please note that Rod "friend of this blog" Dreher has confirmed the key element of the story with the man who is at the center of it. I will, however, share one relevant personal anecdote.

Years and years ago, when I was leaving college, I had a job interview with a major church-related wire service. I went into the interview knowing that I urgently needed to ask this editor one question: "Is the work you do journalism or public relations?"

We came back from lunch and started talking. One of the first things the editor asked me was, "Do you think what we do is journalism or public relations?"

I responded by telling him that I had come to town to ask him precisely that question. He smiled and said, "Well, I asked you first."

Needless to say, I was silent for a while. I knew that, in effect, my answer would represent a kind of turning point in my work, potentially closing a symbolic door.

"I think that you think the work you do is journalism," I said, "but the people who sign your paycheck think that it's public relations."

Precisely, he said. Could I live with that?

I said, "No."

So click here to read all of Dreher's post entitled, "Shooting The Messenger," about the latest sad, even tragic twist in the story of The National Catholic Register and its now infamous interview with Father Benedict Groeschel. Click here for a previous GetReligion post on coverage of this story.

Here is how Dreher's post opens, and closes:

Several readers have e-mailed to say that John Burger, the veteran National Catholic Register writer and editor who conducted that controversial interview with Fr. Benedict Groeschel (it’s been removed from the site; story about the controversy here) was fired by the EWTN-owned newspaper because of it. I confirmed with Mr. Burger that he was let go because of the incident, but he did not wish to comment further.

This is disgraceful on the Register‘s part, just disgraceful. I hope somebody in Catholic media with a job to offer will contact John Burger and talk to him.

And the conclusion:

EWTN and the newspaper it publishes has made John Burger, now jobless, suffer for committing the sin of journalism. At the Register, the truth won’t set you free; it’ll cost you your job. See, this is part of the reason why so many talented men and women of faith stay away from church-affiliated news and entertainment media. People who run churches and church organizations often don’t understand what communications (journalism, filmmaking, etc.) is. They think it’s all supposed to be publicity, and so they guarantee mediocrity, and ultimately the discouragement of talented people — artists and journalists — who have good and useful talents to give to the whole church.

Of course, we live in a day and age in which many of voices (click here for the most important example) in the mainstream press are struggling to commit acts of balanced, accurate journalism, when it comes time to cover the religious, moral and cultural issues that so deeply divide our land. Sometimes it's hard to show tolerance to people who, according to your journalistic doctrines, can be labeled "intolerant."

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