Large Dailies Have Improved Coverage of Religion in 1990s

By Hynds, Ernest C. | Newspaper Research Journal, Winter 1999 | Go to article overview

Large Dailies Have Improved Coverage of Religion in 1990s


Hynds, Ernest C., Newspaper Research Journal


Thirty years ago Louis Cassels, religion editor of United Press International, identified several broad categories of religion(1) news that he said needed more and better attention in the press. These included coverage of institutional activities such as pastoral changes and revivals; coverage of controversies such as doctrinal disputes and church involvement in social and political issues; and most significantly perhaps, coverage of humans' never-ending quest for a confident faith to live by. Cassels said people want to know if God exists, if the Resurrection actually took place, and if there is life after death. He said newspapers should cover religion issues as fairly, dispassionately and fearlessly as they do other controversies.(2)

Improvements in religion coverage didn't come overnight, but by the late 1980s serious religion coverage was being provided in many of the nation's larger newspapers and some of the others. News magazines expanded their coverage of religion in the 1990s, and some television news people began to take a more in-depth look at the subject. Increasing numbers of editors began to realize that religion, or faith in a supreme being, is important to most readers and that most want more and better coverage than has been provided. The public interest in religion, or faith, has been continually affirmed by the Gallup Poll, which has been measuring public opinion regarding religion in the United States since the 1930s. Gallup's polls have documented the remarkable vitality of faith in the United States, but they also have revealed declining support for organized religion. It was reported in 1996, for example, that while more than 90 percent of Americans believe in God, only about 40 percent attend weekly religion services.(3)

The Freedom Forum, "a non-partisan, international organization dedicated to free press, free speech and free spirit for all people," has sponsored two studies in the 1990s of religion and the news media. One in 1993 was part of a series conducted by the Forum's First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University to look at alienation between the news media and institutions covered by the media. This study conducted by John Dart, a veteran journalist whose specialty is religion, and Jimmy Allen, a noted Baptist minister and communicator, found "a chasm of misunderstanding and ignorance separates those who pursue careers in the secular news-media field and those whose careers are in the field of religion." It made a number of recommendations including media recognition of the importance of religion to readers.(4) The Forum's Media Studies Center issued a report in 1994 on a national conference it sponsored in New York in the fall of 1993 for nearly 150 theologians, journalists and leaders from religion and the media in the United States. Its purpose was to call attention to the public's interest in religion and explore ways in which the media could improve their coverage. This study also recognized the need for better understanding between members of the news media and those in organized religion.(5)

A few studies have been done to look specifically at what newspapers have been doing, if anything, to improve their coverage of religion. In a survey of the nation's metropolitan dailies, Hynds explored demographic questions about religion editors and reporters as well as their qualifications, experience, and job satisfaction, and looked at changes in the newspapers' coverage of religion stories and issues.(6) The current study is in large part a replication of that study. Some new questions have been added in response to perceived changes in newspapers and religion coverage, but the broad replication makes it possible to report not only on what's taking place in religion coverage today but also explore how that coverage has changed in the past decade.

Method

A four-page questionnaire, composed mostly of multiple-choice and short-answer questions, was mailed together with a short cover letter and stamped return envelope to religion editors of all newspapers with 100,000 or more circulation listed in the 1997 Editor & Publisher Yearbook. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Large Dailies Have Improved Coverage of Religion in 1990s
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.