What the media don't notice

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Nov 25, 2008

 The American Papist blog, which is always worth checking, notes the Pew Forum report on the under-reporting of religious affairs during the presidential campaign. "No kidding," The Papist drily observes. Then, noticing how little attention was paid (outside the Catholic blogosphere) to Joe Biden's problems with his Catholic Church, the Papist comments:

Remember, under-reporting is a form of media bias as well.


As you read a news story, you can often detect the reporter's bias. If you're a discerning reader you can adjust for that bias, and come away with a reasonably accurate idea of what has actually happened. But what if there is no bias-- because there is no story? You can't form any opinion on current events if you don't know that the events occurred. 

That's one important reason for the existence of a service like Catholic World News. We carry stories that are of interest to Catholic readers. In the eyes of secular news editors these stories may seem unimportant, unworthy of coverage. We have a different perspective. 

There are times, too, when secular reporters catch on a bit later. They aren't paying attention to news of the Church, so they don't notice things when they first happen. But a few days later they suddenly get the drift. So, for example, when I scanned the headlines this (Tuesday) morning, I saw quite a few stories about the editorial on the Beatles in L'Osservatore Romano. CWN carried that story yesterday, but only because we don't post a weekend edition; the editorial appeared last Saturday. There were also several new headlines about the threatened excommunication of Father Roy Bourgeois. CWN ran that story 12 days ago, but loyal readers will recall that we predicted the showdown back in August

I don't mean to brag. A Catholic news service will naturally provide better coverage of Church affairs than a secular outlet, just as the business section of your daily paper gives more information about financial affairs than the front page. But I think the point is worth stressing, because if you're a serious investor you need that information about the stock markets, and if you're a serious Catholic in today's world, I suggest that you need reliable news of world events from a Catholic perspective. 

Many CWN readers have expressed astonishment that so many Catholics voted for Barack Obama, in light of Obama's stance on abortion. But how many of those Catholic voters were familiar with Obama's stand on abortion? That topic didn't come up frequently during the presidential campaign-- as that Pew Forum study showed. 

So now we're back where we started. If you don't know the facts, you can't have an intelligent opinion about them. If the facts aren't reported, you can't know the facts. 

Remember, under-reporting is a form of media bias as well.

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 CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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