Archdiocese of Mobile

Longtime journalist Grip discusses faith and media

FAIRHOPE — Few can provide insight into media matters regarding the Catholic Church like veteran broadcast journalist Bob Grip.
Not only has Grip been at FOX10/WALA-TV for nearly 34 years, but he’s also a practicing Catholic. Grip, who will wrap up his distinguished career when he retires in January, discussed his faith and media June 8 at the Archangel Radio-1410 AM summer dinner in Fairhope. The dinner was for donors who have supported the station at the highest level.
“I love being Catholic — it’s the best gift I ever received from my parents,” Grip said.
Although Grip is Catholic, he’s Eastern Catholic and is on the board of directors of the Byzantine Catholic Seminary in Pittsburgh. Grip described an Eastern Catholic liturgy as to almost identical to the Russian Orthodox Church. The nearest Eastern Catholic church to Mobile is in New Orleans, but Eastern Catholics can fully participate in a Roman Catholic Mass and Roman Catholics can participate in an Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgy.
Grip is also Jesuit-educated, having graduated from Boston College. Grip said the Jesuits’ theme of service led him to choosing journalism as a career.
“I got into journalism to tell stories,” Grip said. “Truthful stories, stories that were occasionally distressing for me, like the sex abuse scandal during which the lack of appropriate oversight gave ammunition to our enemies. But I have always tried to give the Church a fair shake, from proofing reporters’ copy to suggesting stories to narrating Christmas Midnight Mass at the Cathedral, and using the word “transubstantiation’ for perhaps the first time on local television.”
Grip admitted the so-called mainstream media is often maligned in today’s society and said incorrect information regarding the Church does find its way into stories.
Grip stressed misinformation isn’t because of malice.
He cited three factors for incorrect reporting regarding the Catholic Church.
n Ignorance of the way the Church operates
n No appreciation for the nuance in Church teaching
n Deadline pressures which continue to get worse
“Because of the lack of knowledge about religion in general, the major and minor points of our faith get lost,” Grip said. “The days of specialty reporting by newspapers or TV stations are gone, perhaps to never return.”
As many media outlets struggle covering the Catholic Church, Grip said it provides an opportunity for radio stations such as Archangel Radio.
“This is where Archangel Radio and the Church in general can seize the initiative to spread our Good News,” Grip explained. “… We should fully embrace what Pope Francis called a journalism of peace. Not the kind, as the Pope describes, that refuses to acknowledge the existence of serious problems or smacks of sentimentalism. On the contrary, he means a journalism that is truthful and opposed to falsehoods, rhetorical slogans and sensational headlines. Let us not hide our light under a bushel basket. Let Archangel Radio and others in our Church be the lamp stand from which the radiance of our faith shines forth.”