Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Reverse Side of the News

Map of the First Czechoslovak Republic after 1928

Image via Wikipedia

Editor's Note: Hilary White is the LifeSiteNews European and Vatican Correspondent and one of LSN's most experienced and knowledgeable persons on the myriad of issues we cover. In addition to covering European and Vatican issues she has specialized in reporting on the complex reproductive technologies issues. Hilary has written a very detailed Briefing Book for Legislators on Reproductive Technologies which she is currently updating.  

Some years ago, I had a Toronto Slovak priest friend who was ordained in then communist Czechoslovakia. While secretly studying for the priesthood he took jobs that would allow him time to work at his lessons. After his ordination, he continued to be humble Miroslav the-wire-factory-worker by day, and Fr. Miroslav baptizing-children-and-teaching-catechism by night. 

He told stories of meeting secretly in believers houses and hanging blankets on the windows in preparation to say Mass. After he had served his countrymen in this way for some years, and irritated the secret police no end, he got a call late one night from his superior. A car would be at his house in ½ an hour to get him out of the country. He had half an hour to say goodbye to his mother, whom he did not see again for many years.

I asked him if he had been afraid during that time of clandestine work, and he said, "Of course not. It was fun. An adventure." 

The other day, Kathleen told us of her 
intrepid adventure  into one of Mordor's outposts, the Women Deliver conference, and I have to say, I was a bit jealous. I have always enjoyed the undercover, cloak and daggery stuff, and was impressed with her daring.

Her story of the opulence of this conference highlights the enormous wealth of the international pro-abortion movement, funded in large part by the taxes of ordinary people who, polls keep showing, have no desire to further its aims.

Most LSN staff work from their homes, which is often hard, when it is just you and your computer, to remember the impact LifeSiteNews has in the world. It's not like we're toppling governments, but in the six years or so that I've worked for this outfit, we have made some substantial differences merely by holding feet to the fire with the facts.

We fight on many fronts, but one of the most important is one that goes largely unnoticed; that of language. LifeSiteNews does not indulge in any of the commonly used euphemisms of the mainstream journalistic world.

We do not call the legal union of two men or two women a "marriage," not because we "hate gays," but because we know what marriage is and is not, and refuse to lie about it. We do not use language that implies a person can change his sex because we know that medically, there is no such thing as a "sex-change."

We avoid calling abortion centres "clinics," because a clinic is a place of healing, and abortion is killing. We do not use language like "helping to die" in describing killing by euthanasia.

We do not kowtow to any of the political correctisms that are widely used to obscure the facts of embryo research, of abortion, of euthanasia, of homosexuality, of radical feminism. These linguistic lines in the sand may seem simple to you and me, but are infuriating to opponents of the Culture of Life. 

This is just one of our fights. Others are much, much bigger. When I started, we focused mostly on U.S. and Canadian news; now we cover news from around the world, utilizing the talents of writers and the wonders of technology to translate into English news that is available nowhere else.

I often describe what I do as showing the reverse side of the news, like the reverse side of a tapestry, where you can see the ends of the strings and see, without any illusions, how the thing was really put together. We at LifeSiteNews call that giving you "The Big Picture."

In truth, no one else, in all the nearly infinite vastness of the Internet, is doing what we do. If a basic principle of business is to find a niche that no one else is filling, has succeeded beyond anyone's dreams, without really trying to find that niche.

It is just naturally us.

We know already, from finding them linked all over the Internet, that our stories are widely re-published, cached and blogged, quoted, discussed and pondered by thoughtful people on both sides of the issues. We know, from the often vicious attacks we are subjected to, that we are annoying all the right people.

And there's certainly room for growth in this niche. LifeSiteNews is almost 13 years old, pretty grown-up for the world of the Internet, and we have big plans for expansion, depending…

One of our frustrations is not being able to cover all the stories, tips and critical information we receive. We simply don't have the staff or the time. While money cannot buy more hours in the day, a larger budget would certainly provide us more like-minded staff and make us more effective in Europe, for instance, where we currently have one (1) staff member - yours truly.

I live in Rome (well, near Rome, anyway), and I frequently meet people who come here from all over the world who tell me that they read our articles and in some cases have had their minds opened to what we have been trying to open minds to. 

A year ago, I was invited to a lunch to celebrate a friend finishing her PhD where I met a number of luminaries of the Roman academic world. I was a little intimidated by all the high-powered brain activity surrounding me, but as soon as I came in, I was treated like a celebrity (which was a bit weird, truth to tell). These men and women, who were in the fight in their own way, one by one all complimented LifeSiteNews for telling the straightforward truth.

One was a young priest who had worked in Ukraine who said he appreciated that we had covered some of his country's troubles. Another was one of the famous blogging clerics of the English Catholic Church, who said, "LifeSiteNews is a huge support to priests." Another was a young guy who was finishing advanced studies at the Angelicum who said that LifeSiteNews is still talked about there after we exposed their little Cherie Blair party. (Admittedly he said that at the Ange, we are both loved and hated ... but that's OK).

One older priest barely spoke English and asked me, in Italian, who I worked for. His face lit up and said, "Ah, LifeSite! Va bene. Molto bene."

Stories such as Kathleen's are part of our daily experience as pro-life, pro-family journalists. Without the bottomless pockets of governments, without the Bill Gateses and Ted Turners of the world, we have to do the best we can with the resources we've got.

Although we continue to seek (the possibly mythical) pro-life "Major Donors" who will provide us with the precious resource of tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, the truth is that by far the largest part of our funding comes from the little guy.

It is mostly the salt of the earth people, with regular jobs and families, heavy bills to pay and groceries to buy, who support LifeSiteNews. Many of these people send us what could be called a "widow's mite" donation. That is, as they often tell us, they have very little income, but send us whatever they have left over so that we can do for them what they do not have the available time or skills to do.

A long time ago, I took a fundraising course geared towards the issues we report, and I learned an important lesson. I'm lucky. Or, I should say, I'm blessed.

I get to be involved in this fight every day, a job and a lifestyle uniquely suited to my feisty Celtic genes. I get to do something that many people truly want to do, but are unable. And this makes me a kind of proxy. Your proxy.

A major aspect of the work of LifeSiteNews involves providing you with contact information to follow up and take action on our stories, if you wish. We don't tell you to do this. We just give the information for those who wish to act. And many do.

Recently, I reported that the abortion adverts airing on British television were receiving thousands of complaints. And now the Advertising Standards Authority of the UK is reconsidering airing the spots. This is one way in which we enable readers to become involved in the struggle. You are the advocates. We arm you with the necessary information.

But in a real way, by supporting LifeSiteNews financially, you are involved much more deeply.

In supporting LifeSiteNews with even a small donation, particularly with a regular monthly donation, you are, in effect, paying us to help you get into the fight, and reach people around the world, influence governments and institutions like the UN and the European Union.

We are helping you to educate school children and their teachers, doctors and politicians, writers and lecturers, parish priests and ministers, college students and young women considering abortion.

Your support of LifeSiteNews gets you involved, even while you stay at home with the kids, or go to work every day.

I was once asked, "What good could my little donation do?" I responded, "What does a single snowflake weigh?" But if you live in Colorado, you know that snow will bring down the roof.

Given the huge numbers of people reading LifeSite, if only a third of these were to donate a small regular amount, our expenses would likely be covered.

Please send a generous donation to LifeSiteNews and help us continue to do this work on your behalf.

Hilary White 
LifeSiteNews European and Vatican correspondent 

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