Action Alert!

Is he talking about us?

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | Apr 25, 2003

In his latest weekly column for the National Catholic Report, John Allen scolds various other journalists for contributing to the spread of a story-- evidently untrue-- about a pending reconciliation between the Vatican and the Society of St. Pius X. Allen remarks:

The story is not true.

That inconvenience, however, did not stop rumors from spreading.  The April 21 London Times basically rewrote the Il Messaggero story. Once the Times story broke, it was off to the races. One Catholic news agency sent out a breaking news alert stating: Todays top story, about the rumors of a reconciliation between the Holy See and the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, might be classified as speculative. We're not prepared to say that the published reports are accurate. But we certainly can say that the rumor mill is buzzing.

He's quoting the CWN story, obviously. Now notice something about our alert: It's 100% accurate! We told our readers know that the story was speculative, based on rumor. We also said that the rumor was a hot one. Well, it was; and it still is.

At CWN we work on the assumption that our readers want to know not only the "official" news stories, but also the behind-the-scenes developments-- the scuttlebutt and analysis and even speculation that makes life so interesting.

And y'know what? John Allen seems to take the same approach. Because in that same column, he includes a fascinating tidbit about the Pope's medical treatment. Read the column, and ask yourself: Does the Pope take the pills prescribed by Dr. Luc Montagnier, or not? Wouldn't that story be best classified as "speculative"-- since there's no confirmation one way or another? But it's a good story, and we're glad he reported it.

John Allen is a good reporter. And since it's no secret that we usually disagree with him, we don't mind the criticism. So our only real complaint is that, while quoting our news alert, he doesn't actually identify CWN. It's an axiom of public relations that "bad press" is really "good press," as long as they spell your name right.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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