Friday, December 21, 2012

Harmless fun with the National Catholic Reporter

I had some fun over at the National Catholic Reporter site recently. Fr Z (who, even though he is not Wikipedia, is increasingly the font of all wisdom when it comes to what's going on in the world of traditional Catholicism) said they had a poll going on over there as to who was Catholic of the Year. He suggested folk go over and vote. 

Now it is well known that Fr Z is not a fan of the NCR (clue: he calls it the National catholic Fishwrap); if he's sending the myriads who haunt his blog in that direction, there is a definite suspicion that he's hoping his readers will send the vote in a direction the NCR folk weren't expecting. Still, none of my business really ... but when has that ever stopped me ... or indeed anyone else for that matter? So I thought I'd have a look anyway. I discovered that it was a poll with a difference ... to quote the editors of the NCR:

NCR's editorial board has already selected our Person of the Year for 2012, though you have to wait until Dec. 26 to find out who was selected.

Until then, we open the floor to you! Below is the list of Person of the Year finalists who were discussed for the title. Who would you choose? The comments boards are, as ever, yours.

So, they'd already made their choice, but they wondered what the rest of the world thought? A bit weird, methinks .. and since they had declared the comments board open, I thought I'd engage in some harmless mischief & ask a few questions ...

Hmm ... seems a bit odd, having a vote after you've already decided. If someone else tops the poll, do you take it back from your choice & give it to the actual winner? Or do you give out a second award after, called the People's Choice Person of the Year?
  • Avatar
    VivatPapaBenedictus replied
    That's a great point, Father. However, if the National catholic Reporter allowed the people to choose, we wouldn't choose the "right" person! ;)

    • Avatar
      Pam Cohen, the web-editor also responded:
      Hi Father,
      NCR's Person of the Year is and always has been decided by our editorial board and will not be changing based on the poll. The poll was just a little something fun to see what others had to say!

      • Avatar
        So of course, I replied to her reply!

        Thanks for your reply Pam.
        Doesn't ' is and always has been' sound a little strong considering that this is only the third year of the award? I mean, if it had been going for decades I could understand standing on tradition, but when the thing is barely off the ground, surely there is some room for some flexibility and playing around with the idea?
        And don't worry; I understand that the board's decision is final ... that was just my having a little fun too! After all, if the board can have some fun, no reason others shouldn't too!
        Merry Christmas!

        • Avatar
          Pam Cohen came back with:
          You'll have to forgive my wording -- I've only been with NCR a little more than a year, so to me, it's been going forever!
          Merry Christmas to you, as well! And thanks for reading NCR!

          And then (well now!) the editor of NCR joined in the fun!
          Dennis Coday
          Vera Harkwins (above) and Fr_Levi (below) make points that I never even considered when I asked Pam Cohen to post this poll.

          The selection of Person of the Year is a choice made by the editors here at NCR. We see it as a news judgment, like many we make every day. It is a message from us to you, our readers, telling you what we think is important. And we will give you reasons for why we made the decision. Our hope is that you will respond -- agreeing and disagreeing with us -- and we will have a conversation about events and people that shaped our lives this past year.

          We come to you after we have selected, because it is our choice to make. We want you to react to what we think is important. We are not "afraid" readers will pick the "wrong" person. As this list demonstrates, even among ourselves, we disagreed. We like those kinds of disagreements. If we don't tell you what we think, you can't react to it. The idea of putting up this poll before we reveal our selection was to get the conversation started. We wanted people think, "Hmmmm, I wonder who NCR will pick. I bet it is ....." We hoped to build a little anticipation by tantalizing you with the list first.
          Let me make one last point. "Person of the Year" isn't meant to be an honor or an award. It is not meant to be the person we like the most. The person is a significant newsmaker of the year. Newsmakers aren't always popular.
          I hope that helps.
          Dennis Coday
          • Avatar
            Well, if the editor is going to respond, it would be rude not to reply!

            Thanks for that response, Dennis.
            If I might remark: if you are sending a message by whom you choose as your person of the the year, then you are also sending a message by publishing the list of those whom you considered. What message do you think it sends by letting it be known that one of those you considered was Roy Bourgeois, someone who was, if I understand correctly, excommunicated latae sententiae in 2008 & was canonically dismissed from his order earlier this year?
            You can treat that question as rhetorical if you like! :-)

            Oh, & I don't suppose you would consider putting an option on your poll to allow people to nominate someone of their choice? It seems from some of the other comments that it would be a popular move ... & that Pope Benedict could well be the people's choice on this!

            Merry Christmas

            No response to that, I'm afraid ... but I did notice that the votes didn't really seem to be registering on the poll. I queried it in the combox ... as did many others. Turns out their online poll thing was only set up to register the first 100 votes! The rest are counted but not assigned to the nominees. And NCR would have to pay money to get it fixed ... but doesn't look like they are going to ... so I guess their poll is a bust ... good thing they already picked the winner themselves after all!

            Merry Christmas.


    1. The headline should read National Catholic Reporter, not Register.

    2. Thank's Tito ... shows how often I read it!
      Merry Christmas! (again!)

    3. Actually, a really silly mistake as I read the Register & like it ... multiple thanks for pointing out the error ... my journalism instructors from DINFOS would smack me silly (Oo-rah!)!

    4. This is incredibly awesome for a variety of reasons. I heart your ability to play court jester so naturally. Wisdom rolled up in a smile. Brilliant!