Ratigan, Tierney Coverage "Beating up on Catholics?"

By Derek Donovan
Kansas City Star
June 4, 2011

A caller I spoke to this morning was extremely upset -- seemingly on the verge of tears, in fact -- that the front page of today's print edition carries prominently two different stories concerning allegations against local Catholic priests in cases of the sexual abuse of minors.

"Why does the paper have to do all this bashing priests on the front page?" she asked. "I see Kansas City is becoming a ghost town, with all this bad economic news everywhere, and all your editors want to do is beating up on Catholics. Can't you just let it drop, or at least not parade it out in front of all of us all the time?"

I ask this question rhetorically: Where is the line between reporting news that seems to be of great interest to many people (Catholics especially, if the other feedback I've been getting is any indication) and holding back, at least in part out of respect for members of the church who are entirely uninvolved and distressed by the coverage?

I can tell you that this has clearly been the biggest topic of interest with my callers lately, and I know the submissions of letters to the editor have been the same. Most of the folks I've talked to have identified themselves as Catholics, in fact. "We're the ones with the stakes in it," one told me earlier this week.

I don't think there's any one answer -- though the caller above does have a point that the economy is also big, significant news that affects many more people directly. This is one of those topics where the public's interest may be disproportional to the overall import. But that still doesn't mean readers don't want to know more about it.


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