We can`t generalize anything as diverse as the press. The Catholic press, as with the media of any geographical location or special interest group, will have its own agenda and its own slant on the news of the day. Each newspaper, blog, or web-site can be categorized by its ideology and its content. If you want to know what is happening in the Catholic Church, you have to remain current on your reading. And, if you want to better understand the diversity of thought, it is good to aim for a diversity of sources.
I was raised reading our local catholic newspaper, The Prairie Messenger. Published by Benedictine monks, it aims to portray a balanced view of events in the church both locally and internationally. More conservative readers sometimes denounced any space given to writers and events of a liberal nature. Andrew Greeley and Richard P. McBride were often targeted. Along with Ron Rolheiser, theirs were the columns I enjoyed the most. Recent new additions have included columns written by women and men from diverse back-grounds and experiences. It is good to hear their voices, including my friend the Mad Trad. 🙂
Many years ago I subscribed to The Tablet from England. Its humble demeanor belied the depth of dialogue that took place between its covers. The letters to the editor were the first pages I read. I was in awe of the intelligent and respectful back and forth on various issues of the day. Sadly, the overseas subscription was too costly to renew.
Today, I’m a regular reader of the National Catholic Reporter online. I like to read the readers responses, but am often disheartened at the vitriolic tones from opposing ideological camps. I also go to the secular networks for their slant on current events in the church. (Usually the BBC and CBC.)
For me, a good catholic press is more than a PR tool for the local bishop and his priests. A good catholic press will present the current events, people and issues in the local, national, and international church. It will allow all voices to be heard, and encourage respectful dialogue. It will address the messy topics, and not be afraid of controversy. And, it will also present the many good news stories of generosity and faith in action that are often left unheard. After all, we need to be both informed and inspired.