Whenever your GetReligionistas pick on the Style gods at The Washington Post — primarily with our pronouncements that alternative points of view are good things in features about controversial issues (perfect example here) — there is always someone out there in comment-pages land who tells us to lighten up and get real.
After all, why should anyone expect the traditional rules of journalism to apply back in the once-fluffy pages of the Style section, even when the ace writers there are dealing with subjects of national and global importance. Right? Who needs to hear from the other side when you are dealing with issues of culture, as opposed to the real world of politics?
Call me crazy, but I still like to hear from critical, informed, worthy voices on the other side of controversial issues, especially on religion-news stories. It doesn’t matter to me whether the feature story focuses on people and institutions on the religious left or the religious right. It’s even nice to read a diversity of views when things are going on in the middle.
Every rare now and then, the Style gods do one of their profiles of someone on the conservative side of things. These reports are rare, since conservatives, one can only assume, very rarely do colorful, creative, edgy and stylish things. Nevertheless, we had a big Style report on a pack of conservatives just the other day and, to my shock, the report was very low-key and respectful.
In fact, I thought it suffered from a severe lack of commentary by Catholic liberals who, trust me, would have wanted to discuss the news hook for this story. Why? Because we are talking about Mother Angelica and we’re talking about news in Washington, D.C.
They’ve long delivered the Good News. And now, simply news.
The Eternal Word Television Network, which, from an unlikely start in the garage of an Alabama monastery, has become one of the world’s biggest religious broadcasting operations, is bulking up its presence in Washington this summer by starting its first evening newscast.
The live, half-hour show, scheduled to start next month, is a major step for the Catholic broadcast company, whose message is typically expressed through devotional talk shows, replays of Mass and religious education programming such as series on the Eucharist or the saints.
By planting a stake in Washington — in an office space near Capitol Hill — EWTN hopes to raise its profile on issues where religion converges with public affairs: abortion, contraception, stem cell research, immigration, the death penalty, terrorism and repression of Christians abroad.
“It’s a deliberate choice to be in the midst of everything,” said Michael P. Warsaw, EWTN’s president and chief executive. “We hope it has an impact on policymakers and the inside-the-Beltway crowd.”
Now, believe it or not, this story does not contain a single word of commentary — on or off the record — from some of the logical Catholic liberals who reside in this town. I can understand Vice President Joe Biden or Rep. Nancy Pelosi taking a pass, but where is E.J. Dionne or the always quotable Father Thomas J. Reese?
But while I was surprised that this feature didn’t seek some of the liberal Catholic voices that were sure to be critical of EWTN, it made me happy by seeking out at least two first-rate authority voices who could actually provide needed input on the subject at hand. That would be the potential audience for the show and how the news might be filtered by the doctrinal views of its leaders.
Methinks these are good questions to toss at all cable-news operations, these days.
One of the voices is rather obvious. The second showed real initiative and insight. So who are we talking about?