Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Cardinals Bless The Media By Picking Frontrunner


No doubt correspondents at the Vatican had plenty of B-matter already written on Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he emerged from the main balcony of St. Peter's Basilica as Pope Benedict XVI. It would have been interesting if a dark horse had emerged as a consensus candidate, and reporters had to instead scratch their heads and scramble to write a few fresh grafs before hitting the send button.

But Ratzinger it was, which allowed The New York Times to hit the web at 1:35 p.m. ET. with a bylined article from Ian Fisher and Christine Hauser, whose name was swapped out for religion writer Laurie Goodstein in a writethrough 10 minutes later, and sent to the bottom of the story.
The Times took a wire-serviceish approach in the lead, allowing the context to follow later:

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope today, taking the name Benedict XVI, then telling a wildly cheering crowd from a balcony on St. Peter's Basilica, "I entrust myself to your prayers."

Perfectly serviceable, and not as dry as the Washington Post lead that followed 10 minutes later.

The Los Angeles Times, though, tried to set up right away what was to come, or not to come, from the Vatican, calling Ratzinger a "hard-line doctrinal watchdog."

Visitors to the Chicago Tribune Web site were told the paper was putting out an extra edition this afternoon, which may explain why it used AP copy in its initial Pope dispatch.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/sns-ap-pope,1,2407790.story?coll=chi-news-hed. So did the Philadelphia Inquirer, although they trotted out an analysis of Ratzinger that was already in the can, where David O'Reilly notes the legacy of John Paul II won't be fading anytime soon.

Tradition and orthodoxy will surely be the hallmark of the Ratzinger pontificate. He not only condemns homosexuality as "an intrinsic moral evil" but has suggested that Catholic altars should face east, to Jerusalem.
To paraphrase The Who: Meet the new pope; same as the old pope.

Boston Globe readers had to go past photos of yesterday's Boston Marathon and click on a small icon for breaking news to find out about the pope, a curious omission given the number of Roman Catholics who live in the area. Early on, the Globe relied on the AP and didn't glom on to its corporate cousin, The Times.
USA Today might have been better off sticking with the AP, rather than cobbling together a staff-wire hybrid on its Web site that led off with this mess:

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and a high-profile conservative, Tuesday was elected the 265th pope of the Catholic Church and chose the name Benedict XVI.
Holy Father, get me rewrite.

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