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Vincentian leader speaks out about the media

by | Jun 14, 2015 | Formation, Reflections, Society of St. Vincent de Paul

Barringer CEODavid W. Barringer, CEO of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, speaks out about the lack of media coverage of  the cries of the millions of Americans who are poor? Where are the stories about poverty, need and disaster, or the solutions to these problems?

He writes not only from a background of journalism studies but especially from years of serving those Pope Francis is drawing attention to today by his words and action… those on the peripheries… who are our brothers and sisters. (From Your Servant Leader June 11, 2015).

He writes…

I’m not going to write about the magazine cover. I don’t really even want to think about it. Every day the media gives us new distractions, seemingly about less and less important subjects.

Every day the media gives us new distractions, seemingly about less and less important subjects. Meanwhile the truly newsworthy subjects don’t get the attention they deserve.

In journalism school, the truly honest professors who had real-world experience related that blood and guts sell, as does sex, oddities, the bizarre, the sinful and the man-made or natural disasters. Good news stories of caring, heroism, love and faith are what we say we want but not what we buy.

That was, gulp, more than 30 years ago. Now we have digital media, a truly 24/7 news cycle, more content and more sound bites. As I have related in an earlier column, disasters don’t stay on the front page. So why do Miley Cyrus, the Kardashians, criminal politicians and movie stars? We have become a nation of dogs chasing squirrels, with the attention span of fruit flies.

Where are the cries of the millions of Americans who are poor? Where are the stories about poverty, need and disaster, or the solutions to these problems? Not sexy enough, they say. No one cares, they say. Get back to me when Angelina Jolie makes a home visit and we’ll talk.

That’s okay; I don’t begrudge someone finding a way to make money. Just call it entertainment and not journalism attempting to set agendas. When the activities and opinions of such a small percentage of our population shift from feature stories to the news and opinion space, count me out. I don’t have time to waste on them.

We Vincentians have our families to support and our communities to strengthen. We need time to discuss solutions. We need time to get properly trained, to pray and to have fellowship with each other and with those in whom we seek to find the face of Christ. Sure, we have a minute once in a while for entertainment, and we choose how to spend these precious moments carefully.

Perhaps the media and government are in cahoots to distract us from the important. Why worry about a national budget’s impact on poverty when we can vote for someone to get kicked off an island? Why worry about the struggling single mom and kids down the street when we can worry about The Bachelor’s choice on TV? Why work toward strong families and life when we can read about gay wedding cake uproars and the lifestyles of the deviant and perhaps mentally ill?

Hey media guys, as I once spent quality time to read in a truly good book, “Get Thee Behind Me, Satan.” I don’t have time or energy for these stories of the weird, the titillating and the outcries of undeserving celebrities. I have work to do for my family and for my God. Get out of my papers and magazines and off my screens!

I won’t hate others because we Catholics don’t hate, we love. You’d understand that if you took the time to know us instead of the celebrities and protestors you create. No, I won’t hate you, but I will choose to ignore you and not to spend my money on your product. That language, of the wallet, you pay attention to and understand.

So call me when Ms. Jolie or Ms. Cyrus or a Kardashian would like to learn about the poor or about our Catholic faith put into action. I’m sure we can have them tag along on a home visit. You can even report on it.

Yours in Christ, Dave

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