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Hilariously Biased "News" About Ave Maria

The Miami New Times wrote an article blasting Ave Maria, the University and the town. It's actually one of the most hilariously biased ledes I've ever read.

Marielena Stuart stood in the middle of a quiet street, 120 miles across the swamp from Miami, and stared down the black plastic barrel of a news camera. Behind her loomed a monstrous church, its 100-foot orange-brick fa├žade shimmering like scales in the nighttime spotlights. Stuart glanced up at its one round window — a Cyclops's unblinking eye gazing out over the strange, tiny town of Ave Maria — and shuddered.
And accompanying this "news" piece is this picture, which one can assume is supposed to represent the Christians living in Ave Maria.



Don't even bother reading the rest of the piece. I made it about a thousand words in and gave up just out of boredom. There wasn't one voice that supported anything or anyone in the college. Not one. Here's the thing reporters and editors have to understand - if your bias is as obvious as this hatchet job, we're not going to read you. You've gotta' do a better job covering it up. Just a little.

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35 comments:

Michelle said...

I thought you were kidding about that photo. Not only were you NOT kidding, they make sure that picture is on every one of the 5 pages of the article.

Laura said...

If you visit there yourself you see it's just a small town with many generations living together a quiet, faith-centered lifestyle. It's a simple concept, attempting to focus on beauty, truth and goodness. Folks like these from Miami seem to choose to mock rather than simply 'live and let live' or even try to appreciate the life that Ave Maria residents have CHOSEN for themselves.

Robin E. said...

Wow. I'm not laughing. My daughter went to the summer program at Ave Maria, took a Latin immersion course and a course on Tolkien and Lewis with two amazing professors and some of the nicest, smartest kids you could ever dream of as friends for your kid, and absolutely fell in love with the campus - Everglades and all. She has her hopes pinned on going there again, and maybe for college. I just can't wait for her virulently Christophobic relatives (some of whom are Florida residents) to see this... We are living in sad times. :(

Rick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick said...

Hey Matt remember when you posted about just going away and starting your own Catholic commune? I think your prayers have been answered in Ave Maria.

It is good that the world ridicules them. They must be faithful to the Lord who foretold just that. This is providential as I am planning to relocate to FL to add more days to my life and more life to my days; the sun helps a lot. Anyway, I was getting turned off by the Muslims in Orlando then I saw this.

I saw their official site and it looks perfect for raising my 5 small children.

Anonymous said...

dh and I are steubenville grads. we hoped that our oldest son would be interested in a Newman Guide School. He visited Belmont, Benedictine, Steubenville, and Ave Maria. Ave Maria surprised us all. The faculty is top notch!Our son received much more scholarship and grant money than from any of the other schools. He is playing football (haven't won a game yet, but hey' they're mostly freshman!) as a walk on and loving it all. Yes, we read "Ave Watch" for years, yes, we know Tom M. from back in the days we lived in Ann Arbor. Yes, we know all about the Law School as a family member was an early graduate. It's a great school!

Herminator said...

They must have read too much Lovecraft!

Shalom
Hermann

priest's wife said...

My sister is a graduate from the Michigan campus of Ave Maria (now moved to FL)- so my big problem with Ave is that they took the time and money from students for an unaccredited degree- I hope they can rectify this

Blackrep said...

I think that upon further reading you'll find the article is very well researched. The goofy picture is unfortunate, but Charles Rice and Fr. Fessio are being honest about the Founder. Great profs. like Janet Smith couldn't take the crazy either and stayed behind in MI. Thankfully, great things sometimes rise from difficult beginnings.

Anonymous said...

my sister got a full ride to the Law School (Ann Arbor). The University is now accredited. I'm glad that Tom is no longer at the helm. I suppose it is a risk, as is any newer school. We are blown away by the courses our freshman is taking there, compared to our freshman year at Steubenville. We've had a few conversations with the dean of Faculty- he's a brilliant man, imho....

Sophia's Favorite said...

@ Herminator,

Wouldn't the church's facade be glittering "squamously", if it was Lovecraft?

(And whoa, an actually appropriate use of "squamous"—it means "scaly".)

Jay Anderson said...

I agree with Blackrep. Apart from the unfortunate choice of photo, this looks like a legitimate story to me. One that's been around for a while and as a result seems like old news to some of us, but it's a legitimate story. Surely Prof. Rice, as well as numerous other devout Catholic critics of Tom Monaghan, is someone to be taken seriously.

Jeff Miller said...

This is from the bio of the photographer which yells out "ax to grind"

Tabatha Mudra was born on the side of the road in south eastern Iowa in the early 1980's and later adopted into a family of pious Estonian Vagabonds. Unscathed by the confines of Estonian dogma as a child,

Anonymous said...

I agree that the story is very unbalanced. But some of the content, if true, I had not really heard before... Also, if Charles Rice thinks they behaved unconcionably, they probably did. And we knew they fired Fr Fessio...not a good sign. I was considering going there for grad school but was a little disturbed by all the controversy, and then when I saw pictures, it seemed to really be a condo town for the wealthy or something, which certainly does not appeal to me personally at all...I wouldn't fit in with that!! I know someone whose family members bought a house down there, so I only hope they aren't having trouble because of it.

Anonymous said...

However, I think it should be our right to establish, somehow, places where Catholics can live without any porn, etc., if they all so desire. After all, some orthodox Jews have their own town in NY somewhere, don't they?

David7 said...

There is the bias in the article that ridicules Catholics and impugns the motives of Mr. Monaghan. But there are also some pretty serious allegations made. Why did the editors weaken the credibility of an investigative journalist by adding that insulting photograph? There is merit in Mr Mohaghan's intention and, possibly, some serious failings in the realization of that intent.
Media bias doesn't help in getting the facts out.
I inferred from the article that building a community with a high level of integrity must reach beyond Tom Monaghan's vision and be embraced by all concerned.

Anonymous said...

Holy mackerel. In all my years of copy editing secular religion stories (most of which were biased to some degree), this one is one of the worst I have ever seen. They spilled a lot of CMYK in the production of this monstrosity. The fact that the graphics and photo departments were in on it as well suggests that this is top-down project. High ranking editors were involved in the planning and execution of this story, and I'd take that to the bank.

Anonymous said...

It reads like the opening of a popular novel - a thriller. I think the "journalist" must have a hankering to use his creative writing skills! Lynda

Hilltop said...

Sounds from the article and from the comments that things are looking up at AMU. Good.
The "oratory" matter does not bode well for the church in that town and region. Monaghan the pastor-picker? What non-sense! Good for the bishop to quash that.
Filter the piece a bit (it's easy enough with this writer) and what you get is a chronicle of disturbing leadership. You could staff a highly respectable catholic think tank with the folks Monaghan has forced out.
As for the writer's critique of the oratory design: spot-on! That thing is a travesty and there is nothing that can be done to fix it.

Paul said...

Even assuming the information and quote in the article to be true and not taken horribly out of context, the picture, lede, hyperbolic writing style scream hit job. If the journalist is imparting accurate information, he does himself no favors by employing a writing style straight out of a horror movie.
But if the intent of this article is to slime a faithful Catholic area as being weird and crazy, it served its purpose.

I wrote a piece today on articles like this, and how the media sees the Church. Providential timing, I guess.
http://catholicgraymatters.blogspot.com/2011/10/church-and-publicity.html

Anonymous said...

PS what's with poor tony and his mom, all the way from NYC? they are upset that it isn't a tech school and that girls can't be in the guys rooms? and how is this Ave's fault? sounds like Tony should have asked some questions, opened his eyes, or researched the website first.....??!!

Dave P. said...

Have things settled down there now?

Mark Thomas said...

Yes, the article is biased. But in typical media fashion, there is enough of a story there to be credible.

I don't know a whole lot about the town or Monaghan. I know that he's had trouble with the bishop.

I like the sound of a place without pornography or artificial contraceptives. It sounds nice. But if you enforce morality on people then it's not really morality. It's obedience to earthly powers. Morality is inner.

I can have a house without these things myself by my own choice, and with the help of the Holy Spirit I do. I can get a roommate who has similar beliefs and together we can make a household of believers. If one of us has a problem we can pray and go to confession.

That's how a Catholic town is built, one soul at a time, not by force.

Anonymous said...

Mark it is both outer and inner, there's the expectation that Jesus has that the standards will be made deeply one's own. I understand teaching a standard and to not show why the standard is rational is not sufficiently to teach. But the community's acceptance of some other non-Christian standard is self-defeating, hypocritical. Christians too often allow a few execs from powerful transnationals with their lawyers to make their indecency the wallpaper of society.

Patricia said...

The Miami New Times is well known in South Florida for stirring up controversy and playing fast and loose with the facts. Think NY's Village Voice.

Anonymous said...

I have a son that attends the college and personally have been to the school on numerous occasions. I firmly believe that the author has an ax to grind, I have also met and spoken with Mr. Monaghan, his vision for the school is one that is centered on God. Not the intrinsic hate and progressivism that is being spewed at other so called catholic institutions such as Notre Dame and Georgetown.

Also notice the picture, the cross, the girl is wearing is upside down, obviously trying to instill some extreme anti-christain thoughts. I guess the author should look into the islamic schools that are popping up everywhere and teaching how to blow up people, places and things. I bet he doesn't have the internal fortitude required to review these schools.

As Jesus said, "turn the other cheek", but I must say it keeps getting harder.

Deirdre Mundy said...

I have to admit-- the sheer, planned, UGLINESS of the chapel at Ave makes me unlikely to encourage my kids to go there... it really makes me question the judgement of the people who built it. (TAC, on the other hand......)

Anonymous said...

As someone who spent years at one of the Ave Maria higher ed franchises, I thank God daily that I escaped from this world with my integrity intact.

Yes, this article does display some bias - but the negative picture it portrays is more than earned by the outrageous facts they had to deal with. If anything, I think the true picture is even worse than this article portrays. For instance, not a word about the order of teaching nuns he lured to Ann Arbor, Michigan only to drop them completely when his attention turned to Florida. They had to threaten a lawsuit to get him to make good on his promised support. When he settled with the sisters, he boasted that they could have gotten much more out of him had they been savvy.

One of the worst things that Monaghan has done is to trade on the truly wonderful, well-grounded orthodox Catholics who naively buy into his projects. He does so in order to build his completely bizarre and ego-centric empires almost all of which go on to fail spectacularly. He cares not a whit how many of these people he destroys in building this empire, and their piety and good intentions hide his craziness.

To all those who think this place is the answer to their dreams, I beg you to learn from the many who thought the same, only to have the dream turn into a nightmare. Stay as far away from Monaghan and his projects as possible. By his fruits you shall know him, and the fruit to date have been rotten to the core.

Anonymous said...

All I want to know is how they got that picture of me and my sister! I want it back!

(I think they hacked my phone...)

Anonymous said...

tom is not at the helm anymore. the sisters are very happily active in FL. not sure what can be done about the law school at this time, but I can assure you that the University is NOT what it was 5, 10 years ago. Talk to the intelligent faculty who freely choose to support this mission of authentically Catholic higher education. There have been uproars at Franciscan Univ. and U Dallas as well. nothing is perfect, especially in its' infancy stages. Yes, Tom's a bit controlling and odd (will stop there) so are many visionaries!

Anonymous said...

There was a lot of truth in the article. In fact things there have been even worse than mentioned. But there are also a lot of good and normal people there, and Ave offers a solid education. Places like that attract nuts, but also serious people who want to accomplish something in the world. I could write a book on the bad OR the good going on there. The picture really destroys any credibility of the article. Really, once you see that, do you expect a fair and balanced report?

Anonymous said...

At this point, with all the information that is freely available on the internet about the ridiculous insanity that is endemic with all things "Ave", I no longer feel sorry for people who continue to be foolish enough to entrust their careers, their education, their families or their homelife to anything connected to Tom Monaghan. He has proven over and over and over and over that he is not a trustworthy man and he uses people to glorify only himself - once you are no longer useful, you must be destroyed.

Good luck finding a job after graduating from a law school where not even half the class can pass the bar exam (in a state with a pass rate over 80 percent). Good luck trying to sell a home in a town where you will NEVER have a chance to have a say in how the town is run, which is run for the benefit of the developer. I could go on and on, but there are some people who will never believe the truth about the Ave debacle until they themselves have been gored by it. I for one will not shed a tear when they finally wake up and smell the coffee. As they say, there's one born every minute, and Tom Monaghan has built his empire on that truth.

Cam said...

When the law school transferred from Michigan to Florida, a lot of the top law students in the first year class transferred out. After all, if you want to go to school in Michigan, there's a pretty good chance that you're not going to want to go to school in South West Florida (heck, I'm from Northern California and it was quite a shock to me!). Were the numbers on the last bar exam really bad? Yes. Are they representative of how the school is likely to perform now that the students that are going to be testing spent all three years at Ave in Florida? Unlikely. Let's see how the bar results are in the years to come with students who picked Ave in Florida and attended classes in Florida all three years.

As I look out on the Ave Law School campus at this moment I have to say, I'm not all that worried about our future prospects. Jobs are tough to get all around. But coming from a town where the judge and one of the top lawyers are from unaccredited law schools I can say that drive and initiative matter more than a name printed on the top of a diploma.

You sound kind of bitter Anonymous @ 11:30... You don't need to feel sorry for us. We love the community here and feel blessed to be where we are. Hopefully your anger, for whatever reason, at Ave doesn't get in the way too much... because that's how your comment comes across. Prayers.

Anonymous said...

I am a devout Catholic. I studied at Ave Maria and I worked at Ave Maria, and I can claim with absolute certainty that this article is not at all far off the mark. Tom Monaghan knows absolutely nothing about the liberal arts, or a Catholic liberal arts education. Both points that people are making on this blog are true....they have a top notch faculty, and very good students, but Tom Monaghan had no clue what he was doing and wielded his power like a little tyrant. Virtually all of the faculty felt this way about Monaghan. Yes, the picture in the article is ridiculous and insulting, but the article itself is not biased, it is painfully close to the truth.

Anonymous said...

In fact, it is too bad that they chose such a ridiculous picture because it really detracts from the article itself, which, in so far as it addresses some real concerns and issues, can actually be an open instrument for healing and growth. We should not be afraid of the truth. Some of the things that actually happened there are quite a lot worse than what is being reported.

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