I guess I’ve been in journalism—such as it is these days—for two decades now. And if there’s one thing I’m constantly reminded of, it’s that writers and readers are often on very different pages.
My first journalism professor pointed this out years ago when he asked the room full of would-be cub reporters what the most read part of any daily newspaper was. No one offered up the right answer—which, of course, was the obituaries. Needless to say, it sits comfortably at the bottom of the journalism pecking order—the purgatory every young reporter is sentenced to begin their career. We hate it. Readers love it.
I used to think politicians were equally out of touch with their electorate, and I’m often proven right. But as the election cycle really starts to ramp up—and after our own in-house debacle this week—I’m starting to wonder.
As I’ve pointed out before, with the shaky economic recovery we’re suffering through, I can’t fathom the candidates grasping at these largely peripheral social issues. I mean, who cares about weddings and prayers when we still can’t get jobs or pay down the debt?
Apparently I’m wrong.
The Obama camp’s been working the gay marriage issue pretty successfully—even using Joe Biden as a walking, talking trial balloon. (And, honestly, if you’re against gay marriage, you probably weren’t going to vote for him, anyway. He’s just shoring up the base.)
And now the so-called birth control issue once again rears its head with Notre Dame—among others—filing suit over the mandate, indignantly demanding religious freedom.
(Funny how last time around, the closest we came to a social issue was Bristol Palin’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy, which in 2008 seemed odd. I thought Dan Quayle and Murphy Brown settled that 20 years ago.)
I bring all of this up by way of illustrating how a throwaway comment in one of our dailies this week generated a flood of hate mail my way, including more than a few cancellation requests. Funny thing is, the comment was from another reader, not anyone on the BenefitsPro staff. Sure, it contained a sketchy—if clichéd—crack on the Catholic Church, but, again, in 2012, it’s not anything any of us haven't heard a million times.
Religion is admittedly a touchy subject for most. I get that. Even though I’m Catholic myself, I certainly don’t think the Church is above criticism (exaggerated or otherwise). And I’m actually very proud of the fact that this country was founded on the premise of freedom of—as well as from—religion.
So how did freedom of speech get lost in the shuffle?