The Pope’s German! Hit the Streets, Figby!

The MIPSYs — our contest for the Most Inane Pope-related Story our media can provide — concluded a couple weeks ago. But late nominations have continued to come in, including one that’s too good to pass up.

Remember how, just before and immediately after Pope John Paul II’s death, we were subjected to countless stories about how great Polish people thought it was that the pope was Polish? (We were shocked, we tell you, just shocked.) Today Jocelyn Koehler brings our attention to a piece that reminds us that even with a new pope, you can still get the same old story.

It comes from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and the headline is “Many of German descent proud of countryman.” Yes, it’s true — in a stunning development, many Germans are happy to have a German pope. “Poland was so proud” of John Paul II, said Frank Schmitz, president of the German-American Societies of Milwaukee. “I would think the Germans would be just as proud.”

So would we, Mr. Schmitz. So would we.

Most of the rest of the piece isn’t actually that bad — reporter Nahal Toosi even provides context by noting that the new pope is a divisive figure in his home country. (In fact, Toosi deserves credit for making the best of a lame assignment.)

But the whole thing makes us wonder: Why do editors continue to assign pieces like this? When the Red Sox won the World Series, we didn’t need to be informed that Bostonians were proud. It was obvious and intuitive. Yet media outlets continue to act as though it might come as some great surprise that German-American Catholics are pumped about the new pontiff’s country of origin.

We realize covering the pope can be tough, and that it’s not always easy to come up with a fresh angle. But surely there’s someone at the Journal Sentinel — probably several someones — who realizes that this is one stale schnitzel. Too bad he or she isn’t the person in charge of sending reporters out for local color.

Brian Montopoli

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Brian Montopoli is a writer at CJR Daily.