Cathnews bias

Cathnews bias

Kate Edwards is one of the most prolific bloggers in the Australian Catholic sphere, and I wholeheartedly recommend her blog, Australia Incognita.

Kate is currently waging a campaign to reform Cathnews. I had no intention of weighing in on this debate, but circumstances demand I take a public position.

Chris Kenny recently wrote on how groupthink has overwhelmed the ABC. He argues that ABC journalists frequent a circle of “academics, public servants and hipsters of the inner city,” for whom the ABC is never progressive enough. Against this measure, ABC journalists can sincerely believe themselves to be balanced: ‘If Andrew Bolt thinks we’re too far left, and Tom Horton, Associate professor of journalism, thinks we’re too far right, then we must be doing something right.’

I think the same thing can be attributed to the thinking at Cathnews. ‘If Kate Edwards thinks we’re too far left, and Brian Coyne thinks we’re too far right, we must be doing something right.’

Well, yes. And no. What this shows is that people can sincerely aspire towards balance, without achieving it. If the ABC was truly balanced, it would broadcast as many outspoken conservative voices as it does outspoken progressive voices. And Cathnews would be more balanced if voices like Joan Chittester’s were balanced by voices like Michael Voris’. If one of these is too outrageous for Cathnews, then both should be. If one of these can be legitimately broadcast by Cathnews, then both should be.

In conclusion, and for the record:

  • I agree with Kate that Cathnews is biased. Its editorial voice can be compared to those of the National Catholic Reporter and The Tablet, which are both progressivist.
  • In my dealings with Christine Hogan, Communications Manager at Church Resources, she has always displayed good will and professionalism. I know some people have complaints against her, but my bet is those grievances have everything to do with the incivility and anger which the Internet fosters, and nothing to do with Christine herself.
  • I have no grievance against Cathnews, and I like its service. I have acknowledged on previous occasions that a mention in Michael Mullins’ BlogWatcher column is something of a double-edged sword — a gift of extra readers, with an unwanted spike in abusive e-mails. I certainly don’t blame Cathnews for that! There are a few times when Michael has misrepresented me, but not willfully. The fault was my own. If I expressed myself more clearly, misunderstanding could not occur.