Deacon Greg pointed this out to me today. Seems that some in the Catholic media are peeved that the Jesuits didn’t release their interview with Pope Francis to a myriad of Catholic Sources. Here’s one such complaint from Greg Erlandson, publisher of Our Sunday Visitor:
It appears that hardly any bishops had a head’s up that this was coming. News organizations had advance copies that were embargoed. That means that they promised not to publish anything before 11 a.m. EDT.
And Deacon Greg responds:
Is it possible that this was a concerted effort to shut out other voices? So that the only ones who could speak definitively about it were, in fact, a small cadre of Jesuits? Once it was published, it would take several hours for bishops, reporters, theologians, analysts to get up to speed and be able to comment on this, but by then, the folks at America had already done it. It’s the “get” of the year, maybe of the decade, and good for them. But for a work of this significance, that kind of strategy strikes me as rather small and perhaps even antithetical to the Franciscan spirit of evangelization. For at least a little while, America elected to keep this news, and by extension some of the Good News, to themselves.
And my response is OF COURSE THEY DID.
When you have the story of the year, you don’t exactly give that up to every other reporter. You want to be the one who breaks the big story. And America Magazine and the other Jesuit journals did exactly that.
Some thoughts from a former journalist:
I think the people complaining about this are clearly jealous and to further this point, perhaps they should go the extra yard and try to cultivate a source or two and write their own big story about something. That’s called doing some WORK and not relying on others to do it for you(That said, I’m riffing on Deacon Greg’s column, so I’m just as lazy as you are). I had the David Cone aneurysm story before anyone else. A college friend working for the Yankees leaked it a full twenty minutes to me before anyone else. And a talk show host at the talk station I worked for wouldn’t put it on the air. I had nowhere to go. I decided to leak to the old station I worked for and they broke the story instead. I was really annoyed. I had the story, I cultivated the sources.
And I had nowhere to go with it.
At Busted Halo I was able to interview Bob Shepherd, the longtime Yankee Stadium announcer, who had been sick and nobody thought he’d be able to return. NOBODY had the story of when or if he would be returning. A reporter from the New York Post, who will remain nameless, took the story and wrote it without ANY credit given to me or Busted Halo. To say the least, I was annoyed and there were plenty of other places sports and otherwise who gave us plenty of credit. It was the top Busted Halo story that year.
And I wasn’t giving anyone a head start on it. I sent it to people who I knew would further our reach and who would give us the proper credit for our hard work.
So, sorry, but I’m not buying that America or any of the other Jesuit journals had to release this to anyone else. And they did give advances to people who they knew would further the story and work with them to make sure it was a big story and that America and the Jesuits would get the deserved credit.
Key bishops, he said, received an advance copy of the magazine by mail. Cardinal Dolan received a copy the day before it appeared online. So did the USCCB’s director of media relations, Sister Mary Ann Walsh.The only other person outside the publishing world who received an advance copy was the Superior General of the Jesuits.
And there’s no reason why these media outlets couldn’t spin America’s story for their own purposes as commentators from any number of angles. There’s no reason why in the breaking news moment of the day they couldn’t sit down and make a few comments and tweet a few tweets and try to capitalize on the “story of the day (Week?).” Breaking news happens and when it does you need to be ready. That’s called being a journalist.
Fr. James Martin, SJ talked with Deacon Greg about this today and didn’t back track.
Why didn’t other Catholic media outlets receive a heads up? ”What would the alternative have been?,” Jim asked. ”The alternative would have been to give it to multiple magazines, and the other Jesuit magazines around the world were very worried about leaks…they did not want their story to be scooped.” Jim explained, too, that some of the other publications had a strong resistance to releasing any of the text in advance at all; they weren’t accustomed to dealing with American media practices. ”And frankly,” he admitted, “we wanted this to be a big story.”
And it was and still is. And America and the other Jesuit journals from all over the world deserve all the credit. They did the work and hustled and used their influence to produce a work that may very well win the Pulizter Prize.
It is pure balderdash for others to be jealous and it’s a typical reaction for non-Jesuit entities to be green-eyed monsters at this point. I’m jealous of them too, but ya don’t see jumping up and down like a two year old saying “WAAAAAAH I want to be invited to the inner circle.”
Please. None of us deserved a head start and I consider James Martin and the guys at America good friends and I work at a Jesuit institution. We didn’t get a head start either and we were able to comment and push the story further for our own purposes in any number of ways. They gave a head start to those who would give America and the Jesuits the props for doing one fine piece of journalism. As an employee of the Jesuits, I have to say I’m really proud of the work that all the journals did in collaborating together and Matt Malone, S.J. and James Martin, S.J. did a yeoman’s job in working the media here in the United States.
Do some work journalists. You’ve got a hard job. But stop whining about the success of others. This one’s for you.