Q & A: Michelle Boorstein

by Michael Sean Winters

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This feature poses one question to a group of newsmakers, analysts, and experts. On the subject of the Church and the media, we have already heard from a variety of voices: Sr. Mary Ann Walsh of the USCCB, ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Whispers in the Loggia's Rocco Palmo, NPR's Michel Martin, and, yesterday, from the Archdiocese of Boston's Communications Director, Terry Donilon. Today we hear from the Washington Post's religious correspondent, Michelle Boorstein.
This week's question: "What is the principle impediment to good media coverage of Catholicism/religion?"
Michelle Boorstein:
The premise of the question is flawed. What's "the Church"? The pope?
Anyone who calls themselves Catholic? Catholics can't even agree on whether
one can even be called a "Catholic" if they support reproductive freedom or
same-sex unions -- how can you agree on what is fair press coverage?

And is there such a thing as "press coverage" anymore? Today there are
newspapers, sophisticated blogs, extensive aggregators, essay sites, news
mags from around the world translated into English. While useful for
rousing emotion (and fundraising), I think this "hostile media" image is
inaccurate, and won't resonate to most Catholics around the world.

That said, I've found certain elements of the Church - especially the
hierarchy - are struggling in today's open, Wild West communications
culture. They just won't get into the intellectual mosh pit and exchange
ideas. The pope is maybe the world's only figure who is totally unavailable
for comment or even explanation. Forget seeing him on Larry King, his own
spokespeople really can't even elaborate on his views. I've traveled with
him and he does not answer sufficiently the questions many Catholics really
want to know.

Next week: What is the best reason to vote to confirm, or not to confirm, Elena Kagan?

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