Coverage of Pope’s visit is excessive


Pope Francis is officially on U.S soil for the first time and he is getting news media coverage from all major news outlets.

From CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX news, Pope Francis is being covered by all angles. But why? Is it a moment in history? Or is it to appeal to the Catholic news audience?

CNN initially covered Pope Francis’ landing at Joint Base Andrews just outside Washington, D.C. It covered about three hours of the landing and official welcome from the president.

TIME reported the Pope’s following weekend schedule …

Friday, Sept. 25

8:30 a.m.: Pope Francis will address the United Nations General Assembly, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary. The Pope is also expected to attend bilateral meetings with the U.N. Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly.
11:30 a.m.: His Holiness will pray, meet with families and deliver an address at a multi-religious service at the Sept. 11 memorial and museum at the site of the World Trade Center.
4 p.m.: Before taking his motorcade through Central Park, the Pope will visit a third grade class at Our Lady Queen of Angels school, a 120-year-old institution in East Harlem.
5 p.m.: Motorcade through West Central Park between 72nd and 60th Streets. A ticket and valid ID is required to enter.
6 p.m.: Mass at Madison Square Garden.

Saturday, Sept. 26

8:40 a.m.: Pope departs New York for final leg of the trip. He’ll arrive in Philadelphia at 9:30 a.m.
10:30 a.m.: Mass at Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, the mother church of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia
4:45 p.m.: The Pope is expected to talk immigration and religious during an address at Independence Mall
7:30 p.m.: Visit and prayer vigil at the World Meeting of the Families on Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Sunday, Sept. 27

9:15 a.m.: Pope will meet with Bishops at St. Martin’s Chapel, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.
11 a.m.: Visit to Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, the city’s largest jail.
4 p.m.: Mass at World Meeting of the Families.
7 p.m.: Meeting with World Meeting organizers, benefactors and volunteers.
8 p.m.: Official departure.

But what do we care? It’s imperative as news and information consumers that we understand the value of credible journalism. What can we really take away from a major news outlet that isn’t informed on crucial details?

Consider the ideas and motives of these news outlets, so that we’re not just consuming misinformation, but information that’s credible and worthy of consumption.

Double standards exist in coverage


Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammed Abu-Salha, Razan Mohammed Abu-Salha, are you familiar with these names? Or are they names of random strangers to you?

These three “random” names were victims in a very strange and cruel racist act. They are three American Muslims who have been shot dead near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. By who and why? Their racist white neighbor shot these three Muslim students. The sister of one victim, Deah, stated that they have seen numerous acts of verbal harassment that have come from that very same neighbor. Sadly, the reason behind the shooting was a stupid parking spot.

It is even more depressing to know that the media did not give them the attention that was deserved. Being shot dead for no legitimate and lawful reason is not a merciful act. And what is even more disturbing is that this crime was not discussed. The social media platform, Twitter, had a famous hashtag that went viral in all of social media for #jesuisCharlie, which was a massacre in which 12 people were killed at the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper, Charlie Hebdo.

Media did not direct the attention to this vicious crime, a crime that is so pathetic and hateful that it revealed racism towards the Muslim society in America. Within two days of the Charlie Hebdo attack the #jesuisCharlie slogan had become one of the most popular news hashtags in Twitter history. Unlike the Chapel Hill shooting, which gained recognition throughout social media only, however not even close to the Charlie Hebdo shooting. This reveals the racism towards the Muslim community as opposed to what would happen if the victims were of another religion.

The Jewish ‘Millennial’ identity crisis


While many practicing Jews celebrated the beginning of Passover this past Monday at sundown, in 2014, the meaning behind all of the matzo eating and story telling during Seder is as important as ever.

I may not be Jewish — I am a born and raised Catholic — but this year I have been mesmerized by the traditions that practicing Jews have passed on to the Millennial generation. These traditions not only carry the symbolism behind the history of the Jewish people, but also remind a new generation as to how important faith and family are — even when this sense of importance is skewed.

According to the Pew Research Center, nearly one in three Jewish Millennials, meaning they were born around the turn of the 21st century, say they are not practicing Jews, but identify themselves as either ethically or culturally Jewish. These numbers correlate equally with the changes the nation is experiencing as a whole, where 20 percent of the public consider themselves as not affiliated to a religion, the Pew report found.

Among Jews in the youngest generation — the Millennials — 68% identify as Jewish by religion while 32% describe themselves as having no religion and identify as Jewish based on ethnicity, ancestry or culture. Two-thirds of Jews do not belong to a synagogue and one-fourth do not believe in God.

This is why many spiritual leaders and elders see the eight days of Passover as an opportunity to continue to engage the younger generation. This includes a growing number of young adults who are struggling with their faith due to the distractions of this day and age as well as apathy towards religion.

During the Seder, “One of the things you are always looking for in the Passover Seder is the youngest child. They are the ones who recite the (traditional) four questions,” said Eric Smitt, the president of Congregation Beth El, a conservative congregation in West Melbourne. These questions are the root as to why it is important to keep the Jewish faith alive, he pointed out.

Smitt said:

“The whole evening is a joyous moment that teaches and at the same time has a lot of symbolism. There is a lot of history and it’s very engaging. The most interesting thing that I see is the people who are coming in through a marriage. You find that the non-Jews are more involved and tend to be more religious than the Jewish person.”

This makes sense, after all, these non-Jews deliberately made the decision to convert to a religion in its entirety, and most likely have a newfound perspective of the value of religion and the traditions that come along with it.  Whereas young people who were born into the religion may find it more difficult or unnecessary to connect with their faith.

While the older generation’s concerns about the new wave of reform and non-practicing Jews are valid, many Millennials are discovering new ways to challenge, question, and adapt their religious beliefs and practices to fit in today’s progressive world.

Religious issues are worth reporting


Recently, CNN reported on a topic that will shake religious debates for, undoubtedly, a while.

Did Jesus have a wife?

A piece of papyrus, dated between 659-859 CE, contained the words, “Jesus said to them, my wife … and she will be able to be my disciple.” Until the discovery of this document, it was well believed that Jesus did not have a wife. Such implications suggest extremely controversial issues such as whether Jesus had children and the role of women in the church.

When it comes to religious figures like Jesus, there will always be debate. We generally have the religious or moral teachings of these figures, but not enough solid evidence to put together a comprehensive history — now that there is any sort of hard evidence, the beliefs of millions are at stake.

When I came across this news, I was a bit surprised. You don’t hear much about religion on the news unless it is a religion-based insurgency group or a conflict between two religious parties or countries. Most of what you hear about the Catholic Church is about current scandal.

This finding, however, has drawn to large parties around the world: while Harvard University is releasing the confident opinion that the parchment isn’t faked and Brown University experts are confidently calling the parchment “at first sight so patently fake,” the Vatican has also released a statement on the topic. They claim it is a “clumsy counterfeit.”

This article is a reminder that, although it may not be all over the news, ideologies can be worth reporting. In this case, because a church and a lifestyle is based off of this ideal religious figure, its effect extends both physically (with the church system) and spiritually, to millions.

What Francis says, what media perceives


Decades of popes have consistently been well spoken and have paid special attention on emphasizing the pastoral care of the Catholic Church. The current church leader, Pope Francis, does not differ from previous popes in his way off addressing his people. He is careful and has a very selective choice of words.

What the pope says is not always perceived the way it is meant to be by journalists and is released into the press with false statements that the pope did not actually say or mean.

Former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio picked his words carefully as an Argentine priest and then prelate of Buenos Aires. He was impeccable in his word choice, especially with the politics that attacked Argentina for many years.

Journalists are very interested in what the pope has to say, knowing it could potentially make international headlines. With this, the problem of journalists misunderstanding and misdirecting the media was noticed last spring after Pope Francis’s installation. There was a report in USA Today, for example, about the pontiff’s supposed “obsession with Satan,” of which many Protestants, Catholics and other Bible readers were skeptical.

The newspaper stated that the pope “mentioned the devil on a handful of occasions.” The reporter took an incident where Pope Francis gave a blessing to a handicapped man and speculated the idea the Jesuit pontiff was an exorcist, or from the film “The Exorcist.” The Vatican then went further to tell the international press that no priest performs “ad hoc exorcisms” and the popes usually pray with and bless’ victims.

Any reporter covering this story could have flipped through canon law, the Bible or Catholic catechism, which are available to the public.

A couple of days later, reports came out that Francis declared that atheists would go to heaven as long as they did good deeds. The media took his words out of context when really Francis spoke of “ecumenical communion between believers and good-hearted atheists.” Nothing Francis said had contradicted the belief that work for the poor and downtrodden people would provide a meeting place in people’s hearts.

Two months following this false media report, the media then again reported something out of context. They claimed that Francis declared that the church would no longer “judge” homosexuality. What he actually said was “Who am I to judge” in response to a question about the “gay lobby” and focused on “lobbies” of all kinds focused on the segment of society destroying Christian unity and brotherhood.

Last week, a lengthy interview with American Magazine took place with Francis, which was published by and for the Jesuit Society in America. What the media got from this interview was that the pope was going to change the doctrine — or at least soften it up a lot.

ABC then went on to report this as the pope scolding the Catholic Church over “divisive rules.” A European wire service reported that the “pope seeks easing of rigid Catholic doctrine,” which references other media sources that states he was “pushing a shift” in the Catholic Church. The abortion rights group, NARAL, went on with this false information and published a thank-you note to the pope, only to find him excoriate abortion a few days after.

Continued media failure upsets Catholics who truly understand Francis’s true message. This brings up the question of media credibility on religious matters and even more broadly than that. Catholic documents are easily obtainable and yet the media doesn’t appear to be checking facts before publishing news stories that change the words of Francis and the Catholic Church.

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