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Papal coverage strikes a discordant note

RARELY have I read a more ill-judged – and at times factually incorrect – piece of journalism than the article by Shaun Connolly September 17) on the papal vist to Britain.

Even those sections of the British press most antipathetic to the visit have accepted misjudgments in their coverage in the build-up to the visit – notably The Guardian’s generous acceptance of its “errors in reporting” and “an occasional lapse into a brand of intolerant rationalism that resembles a fundamentalism we would normally abhor”.

It is a sad reflection on the Irish Examiner in general, and Mr Connolly in particular, that it and he have persisted with such a palpably misreading of the tenor of that visit. The best illustration is also the most comical and relates to Mr Connolly’s use of figures for the size of the protest march against the visit in London on Saturday (September 18).

By omitting a ‘0’ from the predictions of the size of the rally (he has the organisers saying they expected 2,000, whereas all other sources indicate the figure was expected to be 20,000), and by overstating the size of the turnout (he says 10,000 whereas the police estimate was 5,000), he has managed the impressive feat of presenting a march which attracted a quarter of its predicted particpants as in fact attracting five times that number – a case of secular Stakhanovism if ever there was one.

If this is an indication of the general standard of Mr Connolly’s reporting, I fear your readers would be well advised to start counting the spoons.

Gabriel Doherty


South Douglas Road



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