Saturday, February 07, 2009

Journalists NOT incapable of going the "extra mile" for background research

Well, Peregrinus, this just goes to prove that when they want to, they can. Hugh Bronstein went all the way to Argentina to get an interview with Bishop Williamson.
We entered the griounds, knocked on a door and were greeted by a bespectacled young priest who politely took my press card and said he would tell Williamson we were there.

It looked like we were to be the first to interview the man at the center of a scandal that has included condemnation by the German government.

But the priest soon came back out looking a bit shaken, saying that Williamson “absolutely” would not talk. “And when he says no, he means it,” he said.
A pity that someone didn't put that sort of investigative journalism into play a lot sooner and a lot closer to home.

1 Comments:

At Monday, February 09, 2009 11:30:00 am , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

Hey, the whole kerfuffle blew up because the media interviewed Williamson before the lifting of the excommunications was announced – and broadcast his, um, idioscyncratic views. Remember?

It’s not that there’s any reluctance to interview Williamson. It’s that the news reportage and news analysis/commentary cycles are quite different. Press officers who issue press releases – as the Vatican did when it lifted the excommunications – do not expect journalists to sit on them for days or weeks while they do background research, and travel to Argentina to interview relevant people. They expect the subject of the press release to be in that evenings broadcast news, and the following morning’s papers. The kind of in-depth analysis and commentary you favour follows much later. (If at all. I rather doubt that would have trekked half-way round the globe to doorstep a man who would almost certainly decline to speak to him if this story hadn’t already blown up into the scandal that it is.) That coverage can do nothing to shape reaction to the intial news reports, because it is too late.

What Vatican press officers should have asked themselves was “how will people who have mistaken ideas about what an excommunication is understand the lifting of the excommunication, when it is reported?”. As I mentioned in another comment, the urgency of this question is considerably sharpened by the knowledge that Williamson is a holocaust denier – nobody has been at all bothered about any of the three other Lefebrvite bishops – and we now know this knowledge was apparently denied to the pope and, I suppose, possibly also to the press office. As a result I would now be less severe on the press office, and correspondingly more severe on the person, or the process, which allowed the decision to be taken and implemented without this salient fact being taken into account.

 

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