By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Paulson versus Warsh

Boston Globe religion reporter Michael Paulson responds to the David Warsh piece I linked to yesterday, and takes umbrage with Warsh’s suggestion that the Globe hurt itself with readers by pursuing the pedophile-priest story so vigorously.

Let’s assume for a moment that Warsh is right, although I don’t think he is. Isn’t a good newspaper supposed to ignore public opinion in pursuing an important story? Warsh’s piece is smart and well-informed, but I do disagree with him about that.

Discover more from Media Nation

Subscribe to get the latest posts sent to your email.


It’s alive


State of play at the Globe


  1. mike_b1

    The Tribune remains profitable? Really?Warsh’s whole hypothesis is out the window with that statement.Who edits this crap?

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: Warsh writes a blog. No one is editing him.At the time Tribune Co. went into bankrupty, there were reports that each of its operating units was running in the black — or would be if not for the $13 billion in debt the company was carrying. That’s what Warsh was referring to.

  3. Chris Lovett

    As a middle-aged ex-altar boy who still gets together with old friends from the parish CYO, I can’t recall any Globe-bashing by any of us when the sex abuse coverage was most intense. My friends and I, together with my relatives, knew some of the alleged offenders. If anything, the stories unleashed negative feelings toward the church as an organization, though tempered by varying degrees of forgiveness. Some of our reaction was to the news itself, but some of it was also based on negative impressions of our own that went back many years. I imagine there were some readers who didn’t like the Globe coverage on this story, though their opinion of the paper (because of its editorial tilt) might have been negative already.

  4. Doug Shugarts

    Dan, Chris Hedges had a brilliant piece last year about public opinion and journalistic mission. The money quote:“Journalism is about transmitting information that doesn’t care what you think.”I think news editors and managers should dwell more closely on the implications of pandering to the crowd.

  5. bob gardner

    There’s also supposed to be a firewall between the editorial and advertising sections. Does anyone still believe that after having their pay slashed because of advertising shortfalls that reporters and editors won’t think very carefully before they offend a major advertiser?

  6. O-FISH-L

    The problem for judicious readers, both Catholics and others, isn’t what the Globe reported, but how the paper was apparently hamstrung by its own pro-gay agenda to mislabel the scandal and shape the story without regard to the facts.The John Jay study, considered by many to be the definitive source on the subject, found that the majority of clergy sex abuse victims were post-pubescent and 4 out of 5 were male. If headlines and labels are supposed to truly reflect the gist of the story, this was mainly a scandal of predatory gay priests, not pedophile priests. Of course, proper labeling of the scandal might have jeopardized the Pulitzer and alienated the mostly liberal readership. Blame craigslist all day long, but when political correctness trumps truth, no legitimate news organization can exist for long.

  7. mike_b1

    Dan, I was being facetious on the “edit” comment. I probably should have made a comment to that effect.Re the reports, you can look at the Trib’s operating income for the four quarters preceding the bankruptcy and see that yes, in most cases they were in the black. But the operating income is less taxes, and while I agree that if you omit the debt repayments, the balance sheet is OK, that’s not an fair way to do it because you are also then skipping the costs of being public (Sarbox compliance, etc.) and (of course) the taxes, which for a company the Trib’s size would be millions.

  8. mike_b1

    O-Fish, as far as I am aware, nowhere in the John Jay report is homosexuality even mentioned.Instead, that was the tact the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops tried to take in “explaining” what the study said. They were, of course, wrong.Moreover, as any catholic knows, because altar boys all just that — boys — are there are far more opportunities for priests to come in contact (excuse the pun) with boys than girls. Prisons — another place with limited individual freedom — are known for high rates of intramural sexual behavior. It doesn’t mean prisons are filled with gay men. And in fact, they aren’t.So you are extrapolating right off the cliff on this one. Again.

  9. Tony

    And let’s be totally, absolutely, correct and honest here: The story was broken by Kristin Lombardi, Dan’s former colleague at the Boston Phoenix, who I think now works for the Village Voice. She had the first story and, frankly, never seems to get any credit for exposing the horrific abuse by those priests to the public.And, let’s also not forget to mention that the Globe buried the story for a very, very long time because Cardinal Bernard Law told the editors there that there was no story … and they believed him.

  10. Dan Kennedy

    Tony: Thank you for remembering Kristen Lombardi, who may be the finest reporter I ever had the honor of working with. She is now an investigative reporter with the Center for Public Integrity. Here is a recent example of her work.Kristen did indeed do groundbreaking work on the pedophile-priest story many months before the Globe weighed in. That said, the Globe got the documents proving that Cardinal Law was protecting those priests. The Globe’s Pulitzer was well-deserved.

  11. O-FISH-L

    mike_b1, prisons are segregated by gender. The young people who priests come in contact with, not so much. To suggest that the scandal was overwhelmingly homosexual (or “intramural”) in nature because altar boys were the only prey available is ludicrous on its face, especially when the church, its schools, CCD classes, youth groups etc. have long been co-ed. All priests are male and according to the John Jay study, 80% of the victims of sexual abuse by priests were also male. Of course the study doesn’t mention homosexuality by name. To do so would be redundant.It’s amusing to watch the Globe and folks like you avoid at all costs calling the scandal what it is. I’d be surprised if many gays don’t feel patronized by the deferential treatment.

  12. mike_b1

    By your logic, since you once were in the same bar as a homosexual, and because you have had sex, you must also be a homosexual.

  13. O-FISH-L

    mike, continue to avoid the facts in order to maintain political correctness. You might soon find yourself out of business, much like the Globe. Brilliant.

  14. mike_b1

    You want to reduce everything to which team someone plays for. Which is probably the least important facet to the problem. Any problem.Psychologists call that “projection.” Be proud of what you are, Fish.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén