Can solutions-based journalism save Catholic media?

I appreciated Greg Erlandson’s column “Is Catholic journalism yesterday’s news?” in the Aug, 12 issue. 

I wrote full time for a diocesan Catholic paper from 1988 to 2006, and have freelanced (including for Angelus) for other publications since. For one, I believe Church leadership underestimated how much of a negative impact the abuse scandals had on the Church’s image. How many people want to trust their youngsters to an institution that ignored their abuse? There are now literally millions of people who will never take the Church’s pronouncements on ANY issue seriously because of what happened.

I also think the Church wasted ample opportunities to build bridges with progressives over too many issues. The fact that certain Catholic hospitals, for example, have stymied labor organizing has done a tremendous damage to the Church, and I have repeatedly found people are shocked to know Catholicism actually preaches that workers have a right to organize to collectively bargain. St. Pope John Paul II was positively radical compared to even a lot of liberal Catholics on this issue, but you’d never know it by reading how some people perceive his pontificate. 

I agree that a solutions-based journalism is the way to go. When I was writing full time, I’d try to outline a problem, say the plight of migrant workers, note what the Church’s official teaching was, and then outline how church folks were practically addressing it. This approach seemed to garner the most positive response from readers and also let “conservative” and “liberal” Catholics know they had more in common than they realized.

— Rob Cullivan, Portland, Oregon 

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