How to distort papal media coverage

Imagine your editor hands you the first assignment, and it’s a report on the Catholic Church. Pope Benewhatsit has gone to some place to give some speech about God and stuff.

You’re eager to impress, but totally out of your depth. What are you to do? Who do you turn to?

Well, here at the The Catholic Herald, we understand how peculiar and arcane the world of Catholicism must appear to reporters new to the beat.

For any event at which the Pope appears, always inflate the number of protesters.

At World Youth Day in Madrid this year, the number of protesters represented less than 0.04 per cent of the people who turned out in support of the Pope (5000 people versus 1.5 million people). But that didn’t stop those enterprising minds at the BBC from focusing almost exclusively on the malcontents, ignoring the vast scale and success of a joyful celebration of young Catholics.

If in doubt, be vague and waffly about the purpose of any protests – especially if there doesn’t appear to be one.

Those nice Christian folk only “turn the other cheek” anyway; not like the protesters, who, if they don’t get due praise and coverage, will bombard your switchboard with anguished complaints and flood the blogosphere with manufactured outrage at your lack of thoroughness.

Any rumour of a potential walk-out from politicians or other religious leaders in response to an appearance by Pope should be reported as fact

Mock and undermine the Church’s position on moral issues by referring to Church “policy”, erroneously implying that like, say, a Government’s, these “policies” could be altered at a moment’s notice

If you don’t have time to ponder the meaning of one of the Pope’s more thoughtful addresses, just say it “verged on the academic”.

No one will accuse you of failing to bother paying attention

Where possible, use photos of the Pope’s back. These are brilliant because they imply that he’s isolated and unpopular.

Finally – and this one’s important – make liberal use of Adolf Hitler.

No report about Benedict XVI or the Catholic Church is complete without a reference to the Nazis, especially the fact that he was a member of the Hitler Youth.

FULL STORY: Covering the Pope: a guide for journalists (Catholic Herald)

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