Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fessio: Tablet Sensationalism

Father Joseph Fessio is pretty damning, in that understated Jesuitical way about The Tablet's reporting of various private remarks made to journalist by Cardinal Schönborn.

Fessio not only accuses The Tablet of sensationalism but of ignorance and I suppose of breach of confidence. It just underlines the need for The Tablet to start employing mainstream Catholics who understand mainstream Catholic theology, who haven't got an axe to grind. No wonder it is apparently Britain's fastest declining Catholic weekly, incidently with a print run of 22,000 a week, it has less readers than this blog on a good week and Fr Tim on a bad one!


Just another mad Catholic said...

Dear Father

Perhaps you and the Archpriest of Blackfen Bassilica should go into journalism !!! Perhaps you could join forces with monks of the F.S.S.R on stronsy and turn the 'Catholic' into a weekly instead of a quarterly publication, complete with website, forums etc, etc.

Who knows your power might begin to rival the great Zulsdorf of the impreginable Fortress W.D.T.P.R.S

gemoftheocean said...

Your last sentence says it all!!!

The nice thing about internet, is that dinosaurs like the Tablet are no longer the exclusive source of information, and they can't sweep under the rug issues which they refuse to cover or address.

Power to the people!!! ;-D


Anonymous said...

"Fastest declining Catholic Weekly". Rally? It is many years since The Tablet could truthfully be called Catholic....but the remainder of your sentence is true.

Frere J said...

It just underlines the need for The Tablet to start employing mainstream Catholics who understand mainstream Catholic theology, who haven't got an axe to grind.
I hate to disagree with you Father but I'd say - it needs first of all to stop being sold in the cathedrals of our bishops and then in short order it should cease to exist.
Btw, I also agree with Just another mad Catholic!

Media Auditer said...

Actually this is not a fair comparison as you are not comparing like-for-like.
Although the Tablet circulation is 22,000, it's readership is estimated as 65,000 since more than one person will read each copy. These are the ABC audited figures.
Likewise although your number of hits is high, this does not represent your number of actual readers since on the internet people visit blogs more than once each day to see if there's anything new and also use the links to navigate from one blog to another. I, for example, probably visit your blog 10-15 times a day going from one blog to another and back again from your listings. On many occasions there will not be any new postings and so i don't read anything of the content. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that you have 65,000 (or even 22,000) readers each week. I think if your readers had to pay to read your content then you would have very few readers whereas the Tablet readers appear to content to do so. I imagine your readership is also much less influential! But in the end it's horses for courses, you both offer something different and I enjoy both. The different perspectives are interesting to compare and contrast and certainly make me think about issues at a deeper level. Please continue your blog but stop this Tablet-bashing it demeans your blog.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Are you auditing for the Tablet?

I am sure you are right in what you say about blogs.

But who estimates the readershipn at 65,000?
I would suggest that there are a vast number of unsold copies at the back of churches and cathedrals.
Many more sitting unread in dying religious communities' common rooms.
I based my ascertion of decline on the fact that I continue to hear that younger parish priests are forbidding its sale at the back of their churches.
Other people I know are refusing to write for them.
I base what is a well founded assumption on the shear age of those who bought the Tablet, they are dying off.

Catholic Intellectuals said...

Hi Father,
I note you didn't publish my message.
ABC estimate the readership as 65,000 based on research of the average number of people who read each copy sold. It is an estimate by an independent party responsible for auditing publications.
The circulation figures do not include copies not sold so I would be careful in your claim that it's the fastest declining weekly Catholic paper since it is a (false) assuption not supported by the audited official (and indenpendently audited) circulation figures. Just as many of the mainstream papers have many unsold copies which are returned at the end of each day which are therefore not included in circulation calculations. If you are basing your assertion on the fact that it's readership is growing old then that would be a forecast rather than will have to wait and see if it translates into reduced circulation in the future. As to the current situation, the circ figures appear stable and are a respectable figure which compares favourably to other Catholic weeklies like the Catholic Herald. I'm sure people have refused to write for it (and this has always been the case) but many of it's contributers punch weight and have also recently included for example ++ Vincent Nichols. Writing unfounded assertions leaves you open to accusations of slander although I am sure the Tablet has too much integrity to take legal action against you. However, maybe you will reconsider your rant since it lacks basic christian charity and justice.

Fr Ray Blake said...

You must be a member of the Tablet staff trolling under various names. I am amused that you should think it worthwhile!
I also think you meant libel not slander. Regularly the Tablet seems to many to be guilty of libel against the Holy Father.

In my parish it was the fastest declining "Catholic" weekly, that is mirrored in other parishes I know.

Peter said...

Media Auditer (Auditor?) may be right about cirulation figures and blog hits. Certainly figures collected for the printed media serve to justify advertising rates and so may be reliable.
I find hard to accept the three readers per copy. For sales to households it seems to me that usually one (the buyer) or two (the spouse also) would be the norm. For institional sales to chaplaincies and seminaries I would expect more readers but I doubt that this would bring up the average up to three.
So I would be interested in the metodology.
Great care is needed with statistics particularly by those untrained.
But your "Tablet-bashing" is based on its failure to uphold Catholic teaching rather than its circulation.
Keep up the good work.

Glorfindel said...

Books by Card. Schönborn published by Fr. Fessio's publishing house include

• God Sent His Son: Christology (forthcoming as of this posting)
• Chance or Purpose? Creation, Evolution, and a Rational Faith
• Behold, God's Son! Enountering Christ in the Gospel of Mark
• Introduction to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (co-author with Cardinal Ratzinger)
• God's Human Face: The Christ Icon
• From Death to Life: The Christian Journey
• Living the Catechism of the Catholic Church, vol 1
• Living the Catechism of the Catholic Church, vol 2
• Living the Catechism of the Catholic Church, vol 3
• Living the Catechism of the Catholic Church, vol 4
• Loving the Church: Retreat to John Paul II and the Papal Household
• My Jesus: Encountering Christ In The Gospel

So why would Fr. Fessio defend Schönborn against accusations that he had attacked Card. Sodano?

I can't imagine.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't buy the Tablet. But I have to admit I do wonder why blogs such as yours Father go after it so much and ignore the other rubbish pseudo Catholic stuff; the Universe is pretty naff and the Catholic Times not much better.
We get the Catholic Herald-which is fairly bad but has some good stuff.
Then there's the horrible magazines like Christian Order. An the New Oxford Review has printed some really dishonest stuff; it's attack on Scott Hahn springs to mind.
So, just as a matter of interest, why the Tablet? Is it really worse than those others?
It may be-do you think so?

SPQRatae said...

Media auditer said:
"I imagine your readership is also much less influential!"
Keep up the good work, Father, you are much loved and much appreciated.
Perhaps one day we will be able to say the same thing about the Tablet.

Jacqueline Y. said...

@ Glorfindel: So why would Fr. Fessio publish so many of Schoenborn's books? Probably because they're excellent books. And Fr. F. makes an important distinction: Schoenborn did criticise Sodano. Criticism does not equal attack.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Because it is poisonously influential, much less so than it used to be.

It also seems to have visceral hatred for the Holy Father.

Sharon said...

If orthodox Catholics are in the minority why should The Tablet change its emphasis to suit them when it is obviously catering for the views of those who read it - those Catholics who dissent from the teaching authority of the Church and who form the majority of those people who call themselves Catholic?

Anonymous said...

Thank you Father- that is clear response that does explain it. While I haven seen other mags go after the Holy Father I would guess they don't do it so repeatedly.
Because I don't read the Tablet it is difficult to gauge what's happening. Thanks

Fr Ray Blake said...

I have received 4 comment from someone with a multi-personality disorder, all written within half an hour.
Decide who you are and I might consider publishing your comments.

Hestor said...

Then there's the horrible magazines like Christian Order. An the New Oxford Review has printed some really dishonest stuff; it's attack on Scott Hahn springs to mind.

Christian Order and New Oxford Review are far far more truthful about the state of affairs in the church today, than other so-called "Catholic" periodicals.

I'd be interested to see what they wrote about Scott Hahn. While I respect him as a apologist he does have some wacky views concerning the gender of the third person of the Holy Trinity.