Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Religion story lines in the media

This week I've been reading various studies of how the news media regards religion. In 1993, Peter Steinfels, sketched out a list of basic story lines in the coverage of religion. They are:

* Religious leader has feet of clay (or is a scoundrel)
* Ancient faith struggles to adjust to modern times
* Scholars challenge long-standing beliefs
* Interfaith harmony overcomes inherited enmity
* New translation of sacred scripture sounds funny
* Devoted members of a zealous religious group turn out to be warm, ordinary folks.

Just thinking about recent stories that I've read, this list fits a lot of them. Though I might add something about religion in politics.

Can you think of other common story lines?

(Quoted from Silk 1995, Unsecular Media)


Jay Livingston said...

"Can you think of other common story lines?" Steinfels's piece is from 1993. Maybe I missed something here, but I think that in the last ten years, we've seen a lot of stories, especially about Islam (and especially in right-wing publications), that don't fit with any of those lines. In fact, they're nearly the opposite of "Devoted members of a zealous religious group turn out to be warm, ordinary folks."

e. turner said...

One story line I have observed is the reporting on mainline protestant groups which do things that are shocking to Christendom as a whole. Allowing a church to be used for a mosque would be an example. Another might be the endorsement of lifestyles that are rejected by Scripture by churches.

Mike Crowl said...

If you don't know about the GetReligion.org site, Bradley, you might be interested to check it out. Their aim is to analyse religious reporting and critique how it could have been done better, and question what's missing.

Brad Wright said...

Jay and e... maybe another storyline is religious outrage, over cartoons, mosques, legislation, etc....

Brad Wright said...

Thank you, Mike.