03 November, 2009

The impact of the blogoshere on the main stream media

USA Today Reports on Catholic Blogosphere
from The American Catholic by Tito Edwards

Last Friday on October 30 the mainstream media here in America reported inaccurately that the Vatican was warning parents that Halloween is ‘anti-Christian’. Of course no such thing occurred. The Vatican did not say that Halloween is ‘anti-Christian’, in fact they didn’t say anything at all.

On that same day, Jack Smith of The Catholic Key Blog debunked the story with yeoman’s work finding the source of the “alleged” Vatican Halloween Warning to a priest of the Spanish Bishop’s Conference by the name of Fr. Joan Maria Canals, CMF, a liturgy expert. I followed up with a posting on this website early the next day supplementing Jack Smith’s findings with common mistakes made in reporting what is and isn’t official.

I then submitted my article to several news organizations, including the Drudge Report and the USA Today. Additionally I left comments and sent emails explaining why their reporting was inaccurate. To their credit, both the Drudge Report and the USA Today, rectified the situation some extent.

The Drudge Report removed the link to the Daily Mail late Saturday morning. Then early Monday afternoon on November 2, Doug Stanglin, who wrote the piece that inaccurately attributed the Vatican warning parents of the anti-Christian nature of Halloween, followed up with our side of the story.

Mr. Stanglin wrote an article titled, Catholic blogs criticize media over ‘Vatican condemns Halloween’ stories, heavily quoting from both Jack Smith of The Catholic Key Blog and The American Catholic postings.

Here is Doug Stanglin of the USA Todays article:

Last week, we ran an item on an article by The Daily Telegraph’s Rome correspondent entitled “Vatican condemns Halloween as ‘anti-Christian.’ “

It drew considerable attention. Among the postings criticizing the media handling of the issue, including ours, is one from the American Catholic arguing that L’Osservatore Romano, the basis for the Telegraph’s story, may be viewed as either an official or semi-official newspaper of the Vatican, but has an independent editorial board.

The fact that it publishes editorials by prominent clerics “does not mean that it is official, standing policy of the Vatican,” says the writer in The American Catholic, adding:

Only the Vatican via its official documents can do this. Hence the confusion when editorials are run that can be confusing to most non-Catholics and even Catholics themselves.

The American Catholic posting, titled “Vatican Condemnation of Halloween is False,” links to a similar posting in The Catholic Key Blog, of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

In that posting, the writer, Jim Smith, notes that the L’Osservatore Romano article centers around the views of a “liturgy official with the Spanish Bishops’ Conference who has been pushing the idea that as Spain appropriates this U.S. holiday it ought to do so in a life affirming way as opposed to celebrating the occult and death.”

Smith takes strong issue with how the media covered the Halloween issue. saying that “a very mild and probably true cultural observation by a priest in Spain, when quoted by L‘Osservatore, translates to Vatican venom against millions of parents,” Smith writes.

“We’ve had press inquiries from local affiliates here wanting explanations as to why the Pope is condemning Halloween and what we’re going to do about it,” he writes.

And that is the end of Doug Stanglin’s piece.

I thanked Mr. Stanglin for his response. Even though he hadn’t retracted his prior story, he did what most journalists wouldn’t do, show the other side of the story. And for that the Catholic blogosphere should be credited to a certain degree because our message is getting out there. So keep up the great work in evangelizing our faith!

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