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tmatt returns to Colorado, plus a brief debate about some basic GetReligion work

tmatt returns to Colorado, plus a brief debate about some basic GetReligion work

Greetings from one of my favorite, somewhat obscure corners of the wonderful state that I called home for about a decade, back in the 1980s and early 1990s. That would be Colorado.

At the moment, I’m on vacation out West with family. Bobby is in Southern California and I’ll be stunned if he doesn’t manage to produce a post on his smartphone while inside Dodger Stadium.

It’s summer. The result is often fewer posts and even a tweaked schedule. Some of our quick posts may even be a little strange — like this one.

The other day I received a comment that deserves discussion. It was a criticism of my recent post with this headline: “Associated Press digs into hush-hush network that protects priests – on Catholic right only.” The key AP statement:

Still, since 2002, Opus Bono has played a little-known role among conservative Catholic groups that portray the abuse scandal as a media and legal feeding frenzy. These groups contend the scandal maligns the priesthood and harms the Catholic faith.

Are there groups on the Catholic right that do this? Yes. Are there groups and networks on the Catholic left that do this kind of work? I wrote:

… At the heart of the accusations swirling around men like former cardinal Theodore McCarrick (and others) are claims that these men have been hidden and supported by networks of powerful Catholics inside and outside the church. The questions I keep asking: Who helped McCarrick come to power? Who protected him? Who profited from his support and protection?

AP has raised very serious issues about Opus Bono and shown strong signs of work that crossed ethical and doctrinal lines. But is the assumption that there are no similar problems in groups — perhaps inside church structures — with ties to the Catholic left?

This Associated Press report does not contain a single factual hint that this problem exists anywhere other than on the Catholic right. It contained valid and important information, but failed to provide essential context — that the Catholic clergy sexual abuse scandal is not a left-right thing. This cover-up is too big for that.

A frequent GetReligion commentator defended the AP piece, arguing that the AP report was not about the abuse scandal, or even the problem of Catholic leaders hidingthese crimes, but:

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'Shame List' sequel: Why reporting both sides is not propaganda but — yes — journalism

'Shame List' sequel: Why reporting both sides is not propaganda but — yes — journalism

So, I dinged the Charlotte Observer pretty hard yesterday.

I criticized the North Carolina newspaper's biased coverage of a "Shame List" of religious colleges and universities that espouse traditional biblical beliefs on sexuality and gender identity.

As I noted, the paper served more as a stenographer than a reporter in its copy-and-paste coverage of the gay-rights organization's publicity-seeking list.

Welp, that post sparked a lively discussion.

Some of those comments strike at the heart of what we do here at GetReligion. So I decided to highlight that dialogue to make sure readers didn't miss it. At least five questions emerged that I'll tackle below.

1. Is the "Shame List" news?

I avoided that question in my original post, choosing to focus on the coverage itself. However, a reader named Linda felt compelled to suggest this:

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Comments with real content: More about that bride and the man with her father's heart

Comments with real content: More about that bride and the man with her father's heart

Longtime readers of this site know that the evolving GetReligionista team has been in the blogging business for a dozen years, which means that we have seen quite a few trends in social media come and go through the years. Yes, I confess that I once thought Twitter was a joke.

Early in the digital revolution, one of the elements of the new medium that excited people the most was the potential for solid, even insightful material emerging through comments from readers, comments that might even result in constructive dialogue between journalists and readers. Then along came the trolls and may online editors lost faith.

Comments have always been a part of what we do here at GetReligion, even though some of the most important comments come in the form of private emails from journalists who, for various reasons, cannot leave public posts on the site.

The problem, from Day 1, has been that the vast majority of comments on our posts consist of commentary -- often very blunt -- about religious and political issues mentioned in our posts, as opposed to commentary about the pros and cons of how mainstream journalists cover these issues. As folks here have stressed many times: This is not a religion news blog. GetReligion is a blog focusing on the good and bad in news media efforts to cover religion news.

Thus, we send about 75 percent of all of the comments we receive into the digital trash. In journalism lingo, we spike them. Frankly, we wish that more people would take the time to read our commenting policy, which began long ago with a memo from GetReligion co-founder Doug LeBlanc.

Want to read it?

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