Thursday, July 24, 2008

And when it gets things wrong?

What happens if the Australian media issues some false information about World Youth Day? It sends out a correction.
It was reported in England that several WYD pilgrims walked out of a house when they discovered their host was homosexual. The origin was a call to an ABC chat show to create a sense of outrage at the fundamentalist bigotry of the pilgrims. The chat show decided to check the story with the WYD organisers and found that the caller didn't appear on the database of WYD hosts. They then contacted him again to be told that he hadn't registered through WYD but through his local parish. A call to the the parish revealed that wasn't true either.
So what did this local ABC radio station do, even as the world's media were broadcasting the story all over the world? Pass over the revelation in silence? Continue the deception? No. They issued a clarification to say that they followed up the story and found it impossible to substantiate "just so that our listeners who heard the caller aren't left hanging".

An interesting follow-up on the supposed desecration of a Cenotaph by WYD pilgrims. International media picked up the story that the war memorial had been defaced with the words "Ratzinger Rules". It's unusual for Catholics to refer to the Holy Father as "Ratzinger" and from the start there was something fishy about this insult to the Australian war-dead. It now turns out that other inscriptions included the phrase: "God bless you Diggers". There's also something odd here: "Digger" is the local slang for a soldier. The good news is that the police are reviewing CTV footage. Let's hope they catch whoever was responsible. No one over here believes it was a pilgrim, as the NSW Police Commissioner said, "this is enormously disrespectful, particularly to our returned servicemen, as well as to a visiting head of state, the Pope".

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