At the risk of beating this subject to a bloody pulp, I want to return today to a topic I’ve written about in this space several times in recent weeks — the way the media cover religion.
To reiterate my views: With a few exceptions, most of the press does a lousy job covering religion. Major metropolitan newspapers rarely assign more than one or two people to the beat, if that, and the mainstream broadcast media is even worse. My biased view is that my newspaper, The Kansas City Star, does better than most papers, but our staff, like most, is far too limited to do justice to all that could be written about the way religion intersects the with rest of life.
I raise this again because of the national discussion about all of this occasioned by a recent piece (http://tinyurl.com/4hsf3) by Julia Duin, the chief religion reporter for the Washington Times (http://www.washtimes.com/). It appeared on the Web pages of the Poynter Institute (http://www.poynter.org/), an organization dedicated to the training and improvement of journalists.
Julia charged — accurately, in my view — that “many newspapers and radio and TV stations refuse to invest seriously in this beat (religion)…”
One of the people responding to Julia’s piece was Paul M. Weyrich, often called the father of the religious right. Paul today is chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation (http://www.freecongress.org). A few months ago, I was part of a conference call for journalists in which Paul was one of the speakers, and I found him to be clear, honest and not overbearing. I don’t agree with him on most issues, but he’s no fool.
In a piece posted at http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/weyrich/050211, Paul praised Julia and also bemoaned the media’s inadequate coverage of religion. Again, I don’t agree with everything he said, but his words are worth reading.
What I’ll never understand is why readers don’t demand better religion coverage from the media. Some of us are fighting that battle inside, but we need help. If you haven’t griped to your local newspaper or broadcast station about inadequate religion coverage, do it today. But do it with specifics. Tell the editor about some story or event you haven’t seen covered. And, while you’re at it, say a word of praise and thanks about the religion coverage you do like.
See my "About" page to find out how to read online what I've written for The Kansas City Star.