What’s the converse of Yellow Journalism?

Wikipedia on Yellow Journalism: “American terms for journalism … that present little or no legitimate well-researched news while instead using eye-catching headlines for increased sales. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism. By extension, the term yellow journalism is used today as a pejorative to decry any journalism that treats news in an unprofessional or unethical fashion.” What’s the term for the converse of yellow journalism? - a puff piece designed to remove all traces of sensationalism from an atrocity. Religion New Service (RNS) has just published a nauseating example.

The headline looks promising: “Critics say pope’s comments are both ‘bold’ and ‘too little, too late’”. It promises coverage of critics addressing the inadequacy of Pope Francis’ response to the latest Church atrocity. But if you read the article, no such critics are included. Almost everyone interviewed is a professional Catholic. The sole exception is Candida Moss, a theology professor in the U.K. - hardly a hostile witness. She’s the one who suggested, “too little, too late.”

While the article specifically mentions a response from SNAP, (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), it contained no coverage of that response. Nor did RNS attempt to contact anyone from that organization. The article was all about Pope Francis’s promise for ‘bold’ acts - just as he promised five years ago when he formed his special commission on the Church’s child abuse problem. The only notable result of this commission was the protest resignations of all its members who were former victims. 

Catholic Press is more Neutral than RNS

CRUX is a Catholic newspaper, support largely by the conservative Knights of Columbus. Though it usually supports the Vatican, it’s coverage of Pope Francis’ reply was for more objective than RNS': “Reaction to Pope’s abuse letter: ‘Nice words, but it’s time for action’.” It’s opening quote was a Twitter comment from Marie Collins, one of the former victims who resigned from Pope Francis’ abuse commission: “Statements from Vatican or Pope should stop telling us how terrible abuse is, and how all must be held accountable. Tell us instead what you are doing to hold them accountable… ‘Working on it’ is not an acceptable explanation for decades of ‘delay’.”

This is hardly hard-hitting coverage, but it is a respectable attempt at journalism. RNS’ is a disgraceful piece of propaganda, like Stalinist coverage of gulags and other efforts to “defend” the Soviet state.


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