CHERRY HILL — Two months before the United States chooses a president, three accomplished local journalists who are Catholic took part in a panel on “Faith, Media and the Election” here at Woodcrest Country Club on the morning of Sept. 9.
Retired anchor Pat Ciarrocchi; Bill Roswell, KYW’s director of Digital News and Media; and Monica Avery, producer of CBS3 Eyewitness News at 5 p.m., shared their views with attendees of the Catholic Business Network of South Jersey’s monthly breakfast.
Michael Walsh, director of Communications for the Diocese of Camden, served as moderator for the lively conversation.
Discussing the challenges journalists face in covering the race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, Avery decried the “mudslinging headlines” utilized by certain news outlets.
“It’s difficult for voters to wade through them, to find out what the issues really are,” she said.
Roswell agreed with her, adding that journalists need to help their viewers discern what is “sizzle, and what is steak” in the coverage of each candidate. “Where’s the fact, and where’s the fiction,” he asked.
The rise of social media since the last presidential election, especially the ubiquity of Twitter, has allowed less-legitimate and dishonest stories to dominate the conversation and confuse voters, all three said.
When asked about how she balances her faith with her work, Ciarrocchi said she aimed to “not lose my moral center.”
Reflecting on the “Pope Francis effect” since his election in 2013, she said the Argentinian has “caught the attention of the world as no modern pontiff did before him. He reminds us to be humble and restores the power of grace, faith and prayer.”
Among the individuals attending was Bishop Dennis Sullivan.
Siobhan McGirl, 20, a graduate of Gloucester Catholic High School, and current senior at Seton Hall University in South Orange majoring in broadcast journalism said the words of Ciarrocchi, Roswell and Avery were good reminders “that having faith, and a moral center, is not only OK, but needed,” especially during this election, she said. “The news is about cutting away the jargon, and sharing stories.”