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Monday, 15 November 2021

Reading the News Without Losing Your Faith - Christopher R. Altieri

Reading the News Without Losing Your Faith
ISBN 9781784697372
eISBN 9781784696818
ASIN B09HQSR6MT
CTS Booklet EX64


My first response upon finishing this book was that it was not what I was expecting.  It is a very in depth book considering the length of the volume. I put it aside after finishing it and returned a few days later and read it again. I consider it well worth the read, but was expecting something along the lines of Seeing the Pandemic with Eyes of Faith by Ivano Millico. This volume is a little more cerebral, academic, and in ways very practical advice and guidance. 

Over the last few years I have read over 200 volumes from the Catholic Truth Society. I stumbled upon them while doing research on an author, and have been hooked ever since. I have also read many in the CTS Biographies and also Saints of the Isles Series, and I loved the books in the CTS Great Saints Series. I love reading about so many saints, their lives and their times. And through that learning how much we need their example and intercession these days. This was the first volume from Christopher R. Altieri that I have read. I believe this is his only book for the CTS. And that he only has 2 other volumes, neither from the CTS 

We are informed that Christopher is “a veteran journalist and Vatican expert offers insight into how the news is made, how to spot clickbait and “fake news”, and how to discover the real stories behind the shocking headlines.”. And he brings that inside knowledge to this work. The description of this booklet is:

“In the digital age, it is practically impossible to avoid lurid headlines or hot-off-the-press scandals. When these scandals involve the Church, it raises questions for many about what it means for people of faith.

Christopher R Altieri, a veteran journalist and Vatican expert, offers insight into how the news is made, how to spot clickbait and “fake news”, and how to discover the real stories behind the shocking headlines. Through a series of recollections from a career in covering the Vatican beat, he offers insight into how he can write about scandal and abuse – and how we can read about it – without losing faith in the promises of Christ.”

The chapters in the book are:

Introduction: The Church in the Headlines
1: Getting – and Keeping – Perspective
2: What is News?
3: Knowing What You Know (and What You Don’t)
4: “The Good and the Bad”
5: What Have We Learned?

I only highlighted one passage my first time through the book, it was:

“If, by “unmasking” he meant something like knowing how to spot fake news, then – yes – we ought to be trained up and on the lookout for it. There’s no fool-proof system or checklist for spotting fake news, but getting your news from reputable sources is one thing we can all do. Just note that “reputable” doesn’t mean “in line with my worldview” or anything close.”

Christopher gives us a broad overview, and wide brush strokes of the history of journalism, media. And he highlights the changes especially late in the 20th Century. He tells us:

“Even in the early days of mass media – really until well into the 20th century – popes made the papers in the society pages, when they appeared at all. This was fine for everyone involved. Or was, until it wasn’t. The world got faster and smaller, and the media was literally galvanised and electrified.”

This is a book that will help us understand the mechanisms, intentions, and behind the scenes decisions in modern media and news. Both the secular and the religious. He does a great job of tracking the changes in papal media engagements over time, and how Saint Pope John Paul II set new standards.

Readers might not agree with all that Altieri states in the book. Some might not like much of it. But he writes from a place of personal experience and knowledge. He pulls back the curtain and reveals the wizard. Some will not accept his conclusions, and others will embrace them. But to form your own opinion and look at the world through a less dark glasses you will need to pick up the volume and give it a read. 

This is a book I strongly recommend and I challenge you to give a read. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by Christopher R. Altieri:
Into the Storm: Chronicle of a Year in Crisis
The Soul of a Nation: America as a Tradition of Inquiry and Nationhood


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