Last week, when the Roman Catholic Church’s College of Cardinals was preparing to choose the next pope, all roads led to the Vatican for media people in general, and broadcast journalists in particular.
Viewers hoped that TV channels would send the best people to cover the key spiritual event, so that it would be given the insightful coverage it deserved.
Past experience has shown that this is not usually the case, because the “star” broadcasters tapped for the plum assignment are generally lacking in genuine religious information, let alone inspiration, and rely on their assistants’ research.
Another problem is the hidden agenda that some broadcasters may harbor in their heart of hearts, as was made clearly evident recently, when a famous international broadcast journalist did a “backgrounder” on the then imminent conclave:
Instead of focusing on the spiritual issues involved, she turned combative and argumentative, accusing church officials of covering up the “real” issues and concerns at stake, like pedophilia, married clergy, female priests, corruption in high religious places, etc.!
This indicates that some broadcasters may use their coverage of the conclave to expose the church’s weaknesses, rather than focusing on the strengths that have made it endure and prosper for more than 2,000 years.
This could in turn make the church particularly vulnerable at this point in time, right after Pope Benedict’s abrupt resignation.
Similarly prone to abuse is some broadcast journalists’ belief that spiritual issues require a temporal explication and application, so laymen like them can become “experts” in matters of faith and morals, and can lecture to and even harangue theologians on spiritual matters.
To avoid these and other potential pitfalls, TV networks should have sent, not just general-topic people but also specialists to cover the conclave—the best of both worlds!
Did that, in fact, turn out to be the case? Some reports were relatively objective and insightful, but other discussions of “issues” and “reforms” in the Church were initiated, not to clarify the situation, but to underscore scandals, controversies and other signs of “weakness.”
The hope is that viewers were able to detect the hidden agenda cynically at work!