I’ve just made up a rule for reading news: The confidence a writer places in an article is inversely proportional to the number of times he/she uses “some.” Such words often substitute for actual findings.
I know, because I occasionally did it myself as a reporter. But I’m not sure I used it six times in one story, as did a New York Times article on Cardinal Timothy Dolan and his place in the Catholic power structure.
The story’s basic assessment is that Cardinal Timothy Dolan was Pope Benedict XVI’s American culture warrior, fighting trends like abortion and same-sex marriage. Benedict was also fine with Dolan’s upper-middle-class lifestyle, and with Dolan delegating archdiocesan matters to his vicars instead of handling them himself.
But with a new pope in town, Dolan — well, isn’t on the outs, exactly; he’s just out of step with the newer, humbler, more pastoral church of Pope Francis. So says the Times.
But to make that case, the arguments get pretty, well, argumentative.
In the last years that Benedict XVI served as pope, Cardinal Dolan, 64, was America’s top bishop as the president of the United States Conference for Catholic Bishops. Ever the genial guardian of Catholic orthodoxy, he led the charge against the Obama administration’s efforts to require some religious employers to cover birth control for employees. Some church experts say he was also the go-to cardinal for many in the Vatican when they wanted to know what was going on in the American church.
See that? Even that nut paragraph, as journalists call it, uses the “some” qualifier. Here are others:
Some see the influence of Cardinal Dolan, once considered a possible candidate for pope himself, waning in the era of the new pontiff.