Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Indolence and truth

Journalists are apt, like most of the human race, to take a shortcut wherever possible. The surprise that the Vatican obtained information for its biographies of the new cardinals-elect from Google (Archbishop Dolan is a Catholic, that sort of thing), directly lifted and without attribution, is but one example.

The précises of Papal homilies is another example. Inevitably journalists pick on the one phrase that they think will interest their readers, usually some sort of a negative comment, as you can read here on First Things:


(Thanks to The Pulpit, and apologies that I can't put in links very well; they aren't easy to do on an iPad)

Wouldn't it be sensible for the Vatican Press Office to send around to the accredited journos not just the full text of the Holy Fathers' homilies, but a predigested account of the central message? Just a paragraph that the journos can tweak a bit to make it different enough not to be accused of plagiarism, or to make the Telegraph's account not too like the Guardian's. Perhaps with a bottle of whiskey to encourage the journos to use that rather than trawl through the homily itself to find the most potentially inflammatory phrase (when portrayed in a particular way)

This, of course, suggests that the Holy See provide some more help to the indefatigable Fr Lombardi, who always appears to project a strange mixture of puzzlement and confidence, of blind panic and quiet reassurance.


Leroy said...

Thanks for the link!

GOR said...

Years ago I lamented the introduction of the calculator into schools. I felt that kids would no longer ‘learn their tables’ and would not be able to add 2 + 2 without electronic help. This was brought home to me at, above all places – the bowling alley! I worked for a bank and we had a company bowling league with teams from different departments competing. One person kept score for each team (it was before the introduction of automatic scoring machines, now ubiquitous in US bowling alleys).

Most of us just figured out the score in our heads and wrote it in. Not the IT team! Their scorer had to use a calculator to figure it out. Now the IT people are the computer guys – software programmers and analysts. You need to know Math pretty well to be a programmer. Yet these guys couldn’t figure out the score without a calculator!

Today you have Google, Wikipedia (very unreliable), iPads, Kindles etc. and mental laziness has increased exponentially. People can appear knowledgeable just by clicking a mouse – without really ‘knowing’ anything – just how to use a PC. Standards have dropped significantly and proof-reading - not to mention fact-checking - seems to be a lost art.

Small example: a recent article in The Tablet on Bishop Campbell compared him to Bishop O’Donohue and had this sentence: “Now things have changed and he [Bishop Campbell] appears to have aligned himself in a "hermeneutic of continuity" with his successor [Bishop O’Donohue].”

This was sloppy in what was otherwise a good article – for The Tablet, at least!