I confess–I like the idea of the iConfession app

I’m kind of getting a kick out of this whole iPhone confession app.  Not about the app itself—as a practicing Catholic, I think it’s a great idea. Most of us have a little wallet card or brochure with a list of bullet points to consider when examining our conscience before confession, and there are plenty of books out there about preparing for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Making that checklist available electronically on a device that’s almost surgically attached makes sense to someone like me who can never find that little wallet card when it’s time to make nice with God. And the idea of making a list of transgressions on the gadget will replace the need (for me at least) to take a legal pad with a list of sins into the confessional.

What I’m getting a kick out of is the media—and public—reaction to it. A quick Google search of “iconfession” turns up 840 news articles at the moment I’m writing this.  My students have even blogged about it.

Starting with a snarky blog on Time Magazine’s site, the headline (and we all know most people only read the headline and lead these days) gives the impression that you can now phone in your confession.

I have no way of knowing if this is the article that started all the misinformation in the media and the blogosphere, but it does point out two problems with journalism today: Writers who don’t check their facts and writers who go for the sensational over facts.

This bnet blog would be offensive if it didn’t betray how ignorant the writer is. That’s another problem with the blogosphere—people who are too lazy or stupid to research a story write out of incompetence or misinformation—deliberate or accidental—and get Tweeted, Facebooked, Digged, Delicioused, Reddited and otherwise given credibility by readers as ignorant as the writer.

After several days of innuendo, misinformation and complete nonsense, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops finally blogged about it, and presented a pretty thorough assessment of the app and the crazy media case study it has become. Read that blog, and be sure to check out the links imbedded in it. It would be a great case study for students to follow.

To me, this whole thing is a perfect example of what happens when people read part of a story and rush to judgment—and writing, and tweeting—before getting all the facts straight. Journalists are taught to be skeptical and check facts multiple times before running with a story. Bloggers with no journalism education or scruples are only interested in massaging their egos and running with sensationalism because they know it will be forwarded and read by people who should know better.

As for me, if I had an iPhone, I’d have downloaded the app by now. I can never find the little brochure or card that reminds me of what I need to consider before confession, but I’m never far from my Blackberry. Hopefully by the time I upgrade to an Android the Android version of the app will be available.

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