Sunday, January 15, 2012

World Youth Day - Who's Listening?

Every few years, millions of Catholics gather in a specified location on earth to celebrate being Catholic and engage in religious activities. This event is called World Youth Day (WYD). The Pope (previously John Paul II, now Benedict XVI) greets the youth and gives speeches about the future of the faith and how everyone all over the world can engage in the religion. Hundreds of thousands of youth register for these events, but attendance at some of the speeches are estimated by media to be in the millions. But, who is actually listening? The Holy See is a website that contains all papal documents and has website traffic of millions, but during the week of WYD this past year in Spain, despite this large interest in the event and the religion, there were few articles covering anything to do with the event itself. There were a few articles from US newspapers that discussed that it had rained during one of the Pope's speeches and a few Spanish papers detailed a few protests that were going on against the event. But where was the actual coverage of the event? The words that the Pope said, the activities the participants were engaged in, the overall themes of the event, etc were excluded from media coverage.

Why has religion (using WYD as an exemplar) been left out of mainstream media? What would taking a closer look at these important religious events mean for our understanding of citizens all over the world? This is a preliminary set of questions that I will attempt to tackle in a separate paper. As I gain more information and inquire into WYD's media coverage, I will be sure to update them on this blog.