Cathnews bias

Cathnews bias

Kate Edwards is one of the most prolific bloggers in the Australian Catholic sphere, and I wholeheartedly recommend her blog, Australia Incognita.

Kate is currently waging a campaign to reform Cathnews. I had no intention of weighing in on this debate, but circumstances demand I take a public position.

Chris Kenny recently wrote on how groupthink has overwhelmed the ABC. He argues that ABC journalists frequent a circle of “academics, public servants and hipsters of the inner city,” for whom the ABC is never progressive enough. Against this measure, ABC journalists can sincerely believe themselves to be balanced: ‘If Andrew Bolt thinks we’re too far left, and Tom Horton, Associate professor of journalism, thinks we’re too far right, then we must be doing something right.’

I think the same thing can be attributed to the thinking at Cathnews. ‘If Kate Edwards thinks we’re too far left, and Brian Coyne thinks we’re too far right, we must be doing something right.’

Well, yes. And no. What this shows is that people can sincerely aspire towards balance, without achieving it. If the ABC was truly balanced, it would broadcast as many outspoken conservative voices as it does outspoken progressive voices. And Cathnews would be more balanced if voices like Joan Chittester’s were balanced by voices like Michael Voris’. If one of these is too outrageous for Cathnews, then both should be. If one of these can be legitimately broadcast by Cathnews, then both should be.

In conclusion, and for the record:

  • I agree with Kate that Cathnews is biased. Its editorial voice can be compared to those of the National Catholic Reporter and The Tablet, which are both progressivist.
  • In my dealings with Christine Hogan, Communications Manager at Church Resources, she has always displayed good will and professionalism. I know some people have complaints against her, but my bet is those grievances have everything to do with the incivility and anger which the Internet fosters, and nothing to do with Christine herself.
  • I have no grievance against Cathnews, and I like its service. I have acknowledged on previous occasions that a mention in Michael Mullins’ BlogWatcher column is something of a double-edged sword — a gift of extra readers, with an unwanted spike in abusive e-mails. I certainly don’t blame Cathnews for that! There are a few times when Michael has misrepresented me, but not willfully. The fault was my own. If I expressed myself more clearly, misunderstanding could not occur.

6 Comments

  1. Kate Edwards
    May 29, 2012

    Thanks for highlighting my campaign Father!

    I’m glad you’ve had more positive experiences interacting with CN than many others, but that is not really the main focus of my campaign.

    I’d certainly like to see a more commentators of the Michael Voris type to balance up things. But I do think there is a fundamental difference between a Voris, who is entirely orthodox, even if hardline on one side of the fence, and writers who regularly promote clearly erroneous positions.

    I wouldn’t expect the secular media to understand this, but a Church sponsored organization is a different matter.

    Similarly, I don’t understand why commenters posting from an orthodox point of view seem regularly to have their posts rejected, particularly when correcting error.

    I too actually like the service Cath News provides, hence the desire to make it better and particularly to refocus it on supporting the New Evangelization.

  2. Monica
    May 29, 2012

    Father, I am one of the readers that found your blog due to CathNews – so glad they pointed me towards it. Keep up the good work :)

  3. Dan
    May 29, 2012

    oooo two prominent bloggers have are publicly voicing criticism! Will cathnews ignore it!

    “Cathnews is biased”
    I’m actually kinda surprised you said that father! I’m glad you did, but for some reason I thought you would try and stay neutral on such contentious matters.

    @Ms Edwards
    I’m glad that you started this campaign, because it has to be done. I’m also glad that you have that blog. I would comment, but in the past I’ve found it difficult to sign up and all. Maybe if you switched to WordPress, you might get more responses. Weebly also allows you to create free websites and blogs, perhaps you might want to try that.

  4. Matthew Price
    May 30, 2012

    I have been really enjoying reading Kate’s posts on Australia Incognita and am finding the CathNews references very amusing. It reminds me of Media Watch. Now that I have returned to Twitter in 2012 I find that the CathNews daily email is ‘old news’ by the time it arrives in my inbox.

  5. Gareth
    May 31, 2012

    Father,

    I am sure the personal correspondence between yourself and Cathnews staff regarding my own personal complaints has motivated you to post this blog, but as an ‘average parishoner’ in agreement with some of the points being made here and on Kate’s blog, I feel it is only right to voice my own concerns.

    1. Cathnews ‘bias’ and the blocking of orthodox Catholics posts in response to articles (as opposed to the concerning high-level of liberally-motivated posts that continually appear with no issues – some even insulting Church hierachy) is in my opinion quite intentional and deliberate.

    2. Father Michael Mullins weekly ‘blogwatcher’ page and continual misquotation and ‘spin’ of orthodox Catholic blogs, (including your good self) without bloggers permission – even when I know of some cases where he has been requested by bloggers personally to please stop quoting their material is completly unacceptable and has reached the stage where it should be reported to a higher authority.

    3. In my experience, people that have communicated with myself that they have contacted Cathnews staff, including Ms Christine Hogan, have been not been replied to in a professional manner at all. In fact I would say they were treated rather rudely.

    4. The ‘banning’ of quite a number of regular (often orthodox leaning Catholics) posters, some whom have contributed to the website for a long period of time may be the source of quite a number of Catholics frustrastions reaching boiling point rather than as you say as an issue of the Internet fostering incivility.

    I highly commend Kate’s efforts and would argue that some of the points above, particularly point 4 points towards a ‘campaign’ one behalf of Cathnews staff and Ms Hogan to crush with unsatisfactory force those that do not see eye to eye with the bias of Cathnews staff. As you say, as Cathnews is at the very least a commendable ‘service/resource’ to the Australian Catholic community, many Catholic should be concerned.

  6. Gareth
    Jun 1, 2012

    Father,

    I have collected these comments posted on different Catholic blogspots over the past 6 months to emphasis the point at hand. I have deleted the names of the posters. Surely the opinions of these Catholics are very real:

    Anonymous said…
    It would appear that Christine Hogan – the “Moderator” of Cath News is little more than a “censor” geared towards the promotion of leftwing radicalism. Absolutely any reason is used not to publish comments from anyone with a conservative or orthodox opinion. For example, if you comment from a mobile device and accidentally leave out your suburb, or phone number, you will receive an email asking for the missing info. However, when one replies and provides the missing information by email, Christine Hogan (the moderator in question) NEVER publishes
    the comment.

    Again, beware if your word count is even a couple of words over the limit (250 words). Never mind that leftwing rants and home-spun philosophies can at times reach up to 300-400 words (verified using word count in Word). See for yourself…

    By the way, there is absolutely little or no moderation on Cathnews
    comments, only censorship. Never mind if Left-wing extremists
    completely and utterly depart from the relevance of the topic at hand in order to push their agenda, they will be rewarded with publication of their comments. No so if your comments are faithful to the church’s teachings.
    DECEMBER 14, 2010

    Posted by ——- ——–

    As for Michael Mullins, his ‘blog roundup’ is starting to really peeve
    me – as contrary to CathNews normal approach this allows a very
    obvious expression of opinion and it almost always is either at odds
    with or highly (and sarcastically, though I don’t suppose Christine
    Hogan applies the same rules for him) critical of anything that looks like what would be objectively Catholic.
    March 28, 2011

    …… ……… said
    I have left 2 comments on Cathblog and they have not been posted as they are in a similiar vein to your comments about their reporting. I have e-mailed the editor to find out why my comments were not posted and have not recieved a reply. a pattern seems to
    be emerging.
    January 28, 2012

    The list of disgruntled Catholics views posted could go on and on, but Cathnews continually pretends their is nothing wrong.

    Surely time has come that a higher authority or official source has a serious look and review of things. Like I said the views posted continually are real and should not be swept under the carpet as per the usual response in our Church to major issues (e.g the appaling state of faith instruction in Catholic schools, the catastrpohic state of female relgious orders ). Time for real Catholic traditional renewal and action.