Media Coverage of World Youth Day

You know I am a big fan of Fr Robert Barron and Word on Fire, and what he has to say about the mainstream media simply ‘not getting’ World Youth Day is insightful. World Youth Day did not ‘fit’ with the reading of reality that the media want to portray – ‘good’ ideologies gradually replacing the old, fading Christianity – which is why they focussed on what was insignificant (a few protesters) compared to what was significant and real – a convergence of 1.5 million of young people from around the world in one place, united by their faith.

I have just returned from a smaller scale youth event – but still probably the biggest Catholic youth event in the UK – the Youth 2000 Festival in Walsingham. Here, Jesus has shown us over the weekend that by simply being faithful to Him – facilitating an event where He is present for five days, and creating the conditions for young people to be drawn into and open to His Presence – He will Himself enter lives and transform hearts. Last night we heard testimony after testimony of teenagers and young adults in their early twenties, whose emptiness and brokenness had been filled and touched by Christ. Once again He has shown me how HE does all the work – we just need to be open to what He wants to do, and tirelessly extend an invitation to all young people – Catholic and non-Catholic – He desires each one of them to be intimately in relationship with Him.

Hopefully I will soon be able to share some photos with you of this event 🙂

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2 Responses

  1. It may not necessarily be that the media “didn’t get it”; it might also be that the World Youth Day’s and Vatican’s media team didn’t quite do their job as effectively as they should have done. It’s obviously hard to judge from the outside, and no doubt there was some “media bias” involved as there will always be. However, most newspapers and media were reporting the same stories with the same angle which suggests that most did not bother sending their own reporters and relied on the newswires (like associated press). In some respects this might be because most media organisations are having to cut their budgets, but it might also be because the importance and magnitude of the event was not properly communicated to them. It may also be that the media teams did not sell in their stories correctly or chose the wrong stories to try and sell. Media are often not interested in mass gatherings unless they are a historical event of some kind (like the protests against Iraq). They aren’t always considered newsworthy in themselves to a secular audience, even if they might be considered newsworthy to a religious audience.

    • Perhaps – you know more about how these things work than I do. But I don’t think there’s necessarily a distinction between what is newsworthy to “secular” and “religious” audiences. Surely a worldwide gathering of 1.5 million young people for a common cause is a curious phenomenon – when else does this happen? I think the angle of most of the media was not to find out what would compel young people to do this (and perhaps you’re right that this wasn’t communicated effectively enough by WYD press team – I don’t know) but rather to pit the gathering against a really insignificant minority of protesters.

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