What happened to the journalistic rule of reporting the news without bias? Simply writing a quality article containing the facts without slant or the journalist’s personal opinions being reflected?
Today, it seems that sometimes the public forum of the media has forgotten what it is supposed to be doing. Instead there are news channels that have what appears to be obvious political agendas. The personal editorial comment, once taboo for a reporter, has become status quo. Everyone has an opinion, there are experts on everything and somewhere along the way the facts and the fallout seem to be an afterthought.
Of more concern, the media has become honed into a weapon.
Celebrities engaged in bitter divorces use the tabloids to air their grievances and win support.
Politicians use the airwaves to sling mud at their opponents, regardless of the truth or the morality of the issue.
Reporters, instead of printing the facts the way it was taught in school, rush to print sensation and splash. The “who, what, when, where and why” of something is secondary to the emotion that can be evoked. That innocent people may become targets or victims of the scorn and rage that follow…well those are acceptable casualties.
The power of the media is immense. Printing a story about any organization could easily lead to a swing in public opinion. Enough bad press, for whatever reason, and the readers come to an impression of being “in the know” and informed. Even if it isn’t the whole story.
Take the Sex Scandal in the Catholic Church.
Headline after headline proclaims the horrible crimes committed by priests. The cover-ups by The Vatican are shouted from the rooftops. Everywhere one looks, one is faced with the pedophilia committed by members of the Roman Catholic Church, emphasis on “Roman Catholic”. When one thinks of a child molester, one immediately thinks “Catholic”.
Why is that?
There are dozens of other sex scandals in other religions but they barely get mentioned in the news. The only religion that is getting front page headlines seems to be Catholic. There is a current headline concerning an Italian expose on Gay priests and their questionable behavior.
Reading the comments after the article, posted by the general public one sees there a HUGE anti Catholic sentiment. People are blurring the line between a person’s faith and the sinful and wrong actions of a few members of that faith. One poster commented: “Boycott all Catholic Businesses…”
What did the Catholic man who owns or runs the local grocery store do to deserve to lose his livelihood?
If one follows that advice then boycott all businesses owned by Baptists, too. “A woman alleges she was raped twice 13 years ago by a deacon of her church, Trinity Baptist in Concord, New Hampshire. Tina Anderson says the rapes resulted in her becoming pregnant when she was only 15.
The former deacon, Ernest Willis, has now been arrested on sexual assault charges.
Anderson also asserts that church officials, led by former pastor Chuck Phelps, covered up the crime.”(1)
Sound familiar? But why wasn’t it splashed all over the front page of the newspapers? Why weren’t there panels and experts called to discuss this crime on the TV news programs?
Also, Pastor Darrell Gilyard was arrested Jan. 14 for sending dirty text messages to underage girls. “Dogged for 20 years by dozens of allegations of extramarital sex with parishioners, Gilyard, 45, resigned Jan. 4 as pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church, a 7,000-member mega church in Jacksonville, Fla., that he has served for 15 years. It is the fifth church position that Gilyard has been forced to resign from over charges of sexual misconduct.” (2)
Then boycott all businesses owned by Episcopalians because in the 1960s an Episcopal Deacon, James Tucker, molested students at an Episcopal school in Austin, TX. (3)
The Lutherans aren‘t exempt, either.
“On Thursday (2004), a jury awarded nine plaintiffs a whopping $37 million in a civil suit against the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America over sexual abuse committed by the now-imprisoned Gerald Patrick Thomas Jr., the former pastor of Marshall’s Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. The total church payout in settlements to Mr. Thomas’ victims is about $69 million.
This case has a depressingly familiar ring to it: Plaintiffs demonstrated that church officials knew that Mr. Thomas had a record of inappropriate behavior with boys and an interest in pornography, yet ordained him anyway.” (4)
These are but a few examples of terrible sexual predation in other organized religions, yet they have hardly been front page news.
Based upon the how these stories are portrayed, the public in general then develops opinions about who and what Catholics are. Innocent parishioners, who love their faith and have never molested anyone are lumped in with the deviants. “Pedophile”, “Catholic” one and the same.
There isn’t an organized religion out there that is filled with perfect, sinless people.
There are a lot of very good, honest, God loving people in this faith who are horrified by what is going on within their Church. Yet public opinion, urged on by the way the media handles each article lays the sins of a few on the shoulders of all.
Was everyone who was a member of the PTL Club bad just because Jim Baker and his wife stole money from the church and committed adultery? They had an air conditioned dog house,(5) does that sinful, wasteful misuse of church money mean everyone in that church were horrible people? Jim cheated on his wife. Does it naturally follow that PTL members as a whole are greedy adulterers?
Anyone who abuses another person is wrong. Molesting children is it’s own type of evil. Pedophilia isn’t a teaching of the Catholic faith. If one questions the majority of Catholics, one will find that the members abhor and are saddened by what is going on right now in their Church. When they go to church on Sunday and kneel down to worship God, lifting their hearts in praise and prayer they have NOTHING in common with the mentally disturbed sexual predators who happen to wear a Roman Collar.
What does mental illness and pedophilia have to do with the Catholic faithful? With their beliefs and their Sacraments?
Yet based upon the way the media portrays this issue, one would think that Catholics have the corner on perversion.
It is the power of the journalists and their writers who have created this idea and made Rome the byword for pedophilia and the butt of derision.
The informed public all are very aware of the scandals within The Church.
What about the articles earlier referenced in this piece?
If each of these terrible tragedies had been handled with equal gravity, the public outrage would then be focused upon the real issue; the fact that sexual predators and pedophiles are found in every walk of life.
They are disturbed people who would hurt others no matter where they were or what they were doing.
Prisons are filled with sexual deviants of all faiths and beliefs, some don’t believe in anything except themselves. They are not classified as “Catholic” or “Baptist”. They are called “Pedophiles”.
It is past time that the media develop some responsibility in their reporting practices.
Fair and balanced portrayal of each and every event would result in the news being relayed while protecting the innocent people who are caught in the crossfire and have to live with the stigma that is propagated by biased, slanted reporting.