The Press and the Council

From America, November 10, 1962:

Press coverage of the Second Vatican Council has entered on its second phase. Many of the writers assigned to cover the opening of the Council have left Rome, and a hard core of permanent correspondents and experts in religious news remains to carry on the task of reporting the century’s biggest ecclesiastical event. Though this Review, along with many others, voiced fears prior to the start of the Council about a possible breakdown in public relations at the Vatican, the record to date shows that the press, in America at least, has done a first-class job.

Not every paper or magazine racked up a perfect score for adequacy or accuracy of reportage, but the fact remains that every American was exposed to a liberal education in Church history, doctrine and ceremonial during the opening weeks of the Second Vatican Council.

The religious press, naturally, set the pace. Both the NC News Service, under the capable direction of Msgr. James I. Tucek and an expanded staff, and the Religious News Service, with Fr. Robert A. Craham, S.J., and Dr. Claud D. Nelson as special correspondents, have excelled for rapid, objective and reliable reporting. Many of the diocesan papers have been able to offer their readers direct stories from an editor or correspondent temporarily based in Rome.

Among the dailies, performance has varied. In the neighborhood of our editorial offices, however, one would single out the N.Y. Herald-Tribune for its splendid series by Jo-Ann Price on the eve of the Council, and for the lively accounts from Rome of reporter Sanche de Gramont. While laurel is being passed around, however, a special word should be said about notable features appearing in some of our national magazines. In this category, the popular vote accords top honors to the October 5 cover story of Time and a lengthy background essay in the New Yorker for October 20. All in all, the press has demonstrated admirable skill in handling an unusually complicated story with intelligence, taste and a laudable sense of discretion.

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