Take two similar stories and try to figure out how the media will cover each.  With a hat tip to Newsbusters, here are the two stories:

1. A former Catholic priest comes forward Monday (4/20/09) to claim that another priest abused him as a teenager nearly 30 years ago. (The accused priest has no other similar public complaints and denies the allegations against him.)

2. A former school teacher was sentenced Wednesday (4/22/09) after pleading no contest to eight felony counts, including having sex with two girls under the age of 16. The man "admitted to having intercourse with the girls, performing oral sex with the teens and taking extremely explicit nude photographs of his victims — including pictures of him with one of the girls – before sending the images over the Internet."

OK, they’re not entirely equivalent.  The priest story is from 3 decades ago and the teacher story is from this month.  OK, and the priest denies the allegations while the teacher is being sentenced.  So given that, what was the disparity in coverage?

NewsBusters answers:

Now it’s quiz time! To which story did the Los Angeles Times devote two generous color photos and a 640-word article? Which story did the Times totally ignore?

If you’ve been a close follower of this issue here at NewsBusters, you already know the answer. The Times loudly trumpeted the case of the Catholic priests, even though the original story was reported three years ago (!). Meanwhile, it totally ignored the story of the teacher (Contra Costa Times, 4/23/09; Long Beach Press-Telegram, 11/5/08).

In addition, at Google news, the story of the priests returns "about 128" results. The story of the teacher? One.

We’ll say it again: It seems the most important element to the Times when reporting the awful abuse of children is whether the words "priest," "bishop," or "Cardinal" is in someone’s job title.

Given the Google results, it’s not just the Times that has this ailment.  It’s almost journalists have some blind spot when covering negative stories on government schools and / or a hot spot when it comes to negative stories regarding religion in general and Christianity in particular. 

I’m sure there’s a logical explanation.

Filed under: CatholicismChristianityDougEducationMediaReligion

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