instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Friday, July 17, 2009

Quis criticiet ipsos critices?

Luke Coppen, editor of the U.K.'s Catholic Herald, has blogged about Archbishop Chaput's recent speech on Catholics and the press. The post includes a summary of the speech, a critique, and links to a number of other comments.

I thought the Archbishop's speech was insightful, bot not groundbreaking or epochal. Mr. Coppen's critique, though, strikes me as somewhat weak. He mentions "two glaring omissions in his account of the media":
  1. The blogosphere: "If the archbishop paid more attention to the better blogs he might worry less that the rise of the web has undermined intellectual discipline and weakened democracy."
  2. The Catholic media: "It's strange that the archbishop nowhere suggests that Catholic newspapers, radio, television and blogs can provide a healthy corrective to the mainstream media's portrayal of the Church."
Written like a man who blogs for a Catholic newspaper.

To take the second point first, I don't know about Britain, but the Catholic media in the U.S. can't provide a healthy corrective to the mainstream media's portrayal of the Church. What is not anodyne is niche, and none of it is widely read.

As for the blogosphere, if you're trying to make an argument about the effect of the better blogs on intellectual discipline and democracy, then it's not the Archbishop who needs to pay more attention, it's everyone else. I'm unconvinced a significant number of Americans read blogs any more critically than they read newspapers.

Mr. Coppen concludes his response with this:
And finally, is it true that reporters who vehemently reject religion at a personal level "will never get the story of religious faith right"? Surely at least some unbelieving journalists can, through the light of human reason and their professional training, set aside their prejudices and report accurately on religious affairs.
To which I would rejoin: Name two.