No sexual abuse? Then it's no story

By Diogenes (articles - email) | May 28, 2010

If Italian authorities deported two young Muslims, saying that they were conspiring to kill the Pope, would you consider that a significant news story?

So would I. So did CWN.

But most American media outlets ignored the story entirely. Writing on the GetReligion blog, journalist Terry Mattingly asks why not, and offers several possible explanations:

  • Everyone knows that it would be impossible for assassins or angry people to get close enough to a pope to be a real threat to his life.
  • These kinds of threats against the pope may now be quite common in Europe. Thus, this is old news.
  • Vatican officials were not anxious to respond to questions from journalists about the plot, in part because of their fear of inspiring copycats.
  • This story does not appear to be linked to the ongoing scandal of sexual abuse of children and teen-agers by Catholic clergy.
  • Journalists are worried about offending Moroccans or contributing to negative stereotypes of young, male Moroccans.

My vote is for option #4. The story wasn't about sexual abuse in the Church. If the story involves sexual abuse but it's not in the Catholic Church, forget it. If it's about the Catholic Church and it doesn't involve sexual abuse, no dice. If you can't fit "Vatican" and "sexual abuse" into the same sentence, you can't get the sentence printed in the mainstream media.  

Richard Cross holds a doctorate in psychology, who has taught at the university level, including at Franciscan University. He is currently an educational researcher and consultant in the field of psychology and related disciplines.
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