Doing Something for Our Times

In a recent survey for The New York Times I wrote my informal concerns about its reporting. It then came to me that if we were to maximize our impact the best way would be to put on a letter campaign. I figure that if the Times hasn’t received a Catholic letter-writing campaign of charitable protest it should, and if it has it’s due for another deluge.

Knowing that this subforum likes to express disgruntled shame at the way Mother Church is depicted in the major media outlets, I thought I’d run this by you guys first.

In general, we request that the fullest efforts of The New York Times be directed toward discerning the full relevant truth, knowing first, that partial truth is often as damaging as whole fabrication and second, that falsehood is contrary to the commendable mission of all news media.

We request, on behalf of all religious, that:
[LIST]
]Whenever poll respondents are asked their religion that it be followed always rather than merely often by at least one question about frequency of attendance at a church, synagogue, mosque or other place of worship.
]Findings from the above question always rather than merely often be addressed in-article.
]Dissent from official religious teachings precede an informed official teaching throughout all formal reporting.
]In the spirit of healthy response, an orthodox Christian
columnist be added to the permanent roster of the Op-Ed section, preferably without replacing any existing, opposing worldviews.
]Reporters be held to a higher standard in their knowledge on official positions on issues, as very often the rebuttal of a dissenter
* is taken for granted, the result being misrepresented religious teaching on social, economic or political issues in-article.
[/LIST]

Requiring a higher standard on reporting may be satisfactorily addressed by one or more of the following methods:
[LIST]
]Employing a dedicated fact-checker specializing in religion to check every article, making sure the truth is not misrepresented.
]Employing an informed, reliable cleric for the same purpose and with the same duties as above.
]Improved training for all writers and other contributors.
]Improved training for editors and increased editorial sensitivity to these issues
.
[/LIST]

  • — rather than give both the headline and the rebuttal to the dissent, sandwiching orthodoxy in heresy, give the headline to the dissent if you must and the rebuttal to orthodoxy —
    ** — not necessarily a Catholic, as Maureen Dowd is hardly satisfactory —
    *** — heretics is too strong a word, and will only inflame or make ambivalent the readers —
    **** — even if they do nothing in response, there are the admonishments at the bottom of the letter which will surely inform the conscience of the reader and, maybe, provoke an honest investigation of the truth —

On behalf of all Catholics, please make sure each reporter or blogger***** who reports on each of the following issues understands the whole Church teaching:

[LIST]
*]Primacy of conscience: Specifically, that it requires an informed conscience and that it promotes only abstention from an action when both abstention and action are both allowable, i.e. that a Catholic may be obligated by his conscience to do an action which is allowed but not obligated by the Church.
*]Female ordination: Specifically, that Imago Dei and Persona Christi are not synonymous, the latter differing in part specifically due to the sacramental nature of both the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance.
*]Clerical celibacy: Specifically, knowing that, while common, is primarily within the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and is not universal within the Catholic Church. Some Eastern Rite Catholics in full communion with Rome — these are not the Eastern Orthodox — continue to have married clergy.
*]Gay marriage, abortion, contraception and other birth control: Specifically, that the writers on these issues who quote Catholic sources inform themselves of the of the whole Theology of the Body, letting this inform their writing about official Catholic teaching rather than the hearsay of a soi-disant expert.
*]Further, that medical procedures which are not done with the means or end of ending a child’s life are not abortion in the eyes of either the medical community or the Church and may be allowable under both Ceasar’s and Christ’s law.
[/LIST]

***** — columnists are exempt from these requirements to my mind, as they should be allowed to proclaim their own ignorance at whatever volume they choose. Any training should be available to them if they want it, naturally, but it shouldn’t be required. —

Is there anything I should add? Anything I should leave out? Thanks in advance.

First, letter writing campaigns have been used in the past. It is a good idea to send someone a physical piece of paper. E-mails are easy to delete.

Second, try to avoid people simply sending copies of the same thing. Certain letter writing campaigns get little attention if they open every envelope and find the same message inside, just with a different signature at the bottom.

Look at a group like Accuracy In Media which was put together to check facts and make sure that reporting is balanced and fair. Obviously, they are focused on politics.

aim.org/

Sometimes, it’s easy to believe that quantity beats quality. If I could send a million pieces of mail as opposed to a few hundred, it would make a greater impact - not necessarily. I think hand addressed and even short letters are best. When individuals start contacting major news outlets like the New York Times, they do get noticed. They may not have an immediate impact but they will over time. We need to get over feeling and believing just one letter will do no good. We must have faith.

God bless,
Ed

Excellent suggestions, and I’ll include this in the instructions to participants.

Look at a group like Accuracy In Media which was put together to check facts and make sure that reporting is balanced and fair. Obviously, they are focused on politics.

aim.org/

After looking at what their Web site’s Google search turns up for the search term “Catholic,” their hostility towards Catholicism, particularly the USCCB, is clear. With headlines like “Catholic Church Facilitates Foreign Invasion,” I’m not worried less about the facts than I am their interpretation. I urge caution to any believer trawling the site for defense of the Church.

Sometimes, it’s easy to believe that quantity beats quality. If I could send a million pieces of mail as opposed to a few hundred, it would make a greater impact - not necessarily. I think hand addressed and even short letters are best. When individuals start contacting major news outlets like the New York Times, they do get noticed. They may not have an immediate impact but they will over time. We need to get over feeling and believing just one letter will do no good. We must have faith.

Agreed. Once the plan gets underway, I hope to publicize this through CatholicVote.org and other sites.

I placed the section concerning of all religious section first for a reason I’m not too sure about. I believe this is the right structure for a letter in terms of charity towards all faithful, but I do worry that by putting the specific errors of reporting about the Church last will effectively bury the lede, and the topic on which we are most knowledgeable.

Thoughts?

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