Sunday, April 24, 2005

Tightly Controlled "Press Conference" by Pope Benedict

I had read on a few blogs about Benedict's press conference, a surprise one, in which he thanked the media for their coverage. Anyway, it was said that afterwards the media gave him sustained applause.

I mention this because I came across a slightly different account in this BBC story. It looks like their are fixing for tightly controlled media access and the effective use of propaganda to control the news.

Pope Benedict Woos Media

At the end of the audience, which lasted about 15 minutes, Benedict XVI rose to give us his blessing.
The pope came in and the camera phones came out

Then with a friendly wave and the words "Grazie, arrivederci!" he left the stage.

This was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a press conference. There was no opportunity for the media to ask any questions, polite or otherwise.

Some journalists were disappointed that the Pope's remarks contained nothing of substance to give us a clue about the direction his papacy will take.

Controlled papacy

The style was also a little different from the audience for the press given by John Paul II, back in 1978.

Then, in a media melee, the new pope shook hands with reporters, and responded to their shouted questions.

Today's proceedings were more dignified and everything was firmly under control. In fact, some people believe control may be the watchword for this papacy

I see our Pope's taking a page from the Bush administration, spin the media, don't answer questions, and make the media report or rather, convey, your words delivered in friendly confines. That's how you control the news.

Of course, of course, it is too early to tell if it is a pattern, but so far we have this single point of reference. What the Pope and his people fail to realize is the journalists are human and the adjectives they use come from their impressions of you. If the Pope choses to remain distant from them, or tries to overtly spin them, their descriptions of him would not be flattering.

A better way to have done this, since he thought it was worth the effort in the first place, was not to invite 4,000 journalists (you heard that right) but meet with smaller groups in a more intimate setting, throw in some tea and crumpets, a celery or two, and voila, he'll have them gushing over him: "Though stern in appearance, this charming man believes . . .," "In a warm and intimate setting, Pope Benedict met with international journalists . . ." 4,000 journalists in a large cold impersonal auditorium with no questions allowed and nothing of substance offered is not going to cut it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very descriptive post, I liked that bit. Will there
be a part 2?

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11:19 PM  

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