The news media is not hostile to religion

According to the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, 37% of the public thinks the “news media is hostile to religion and religious people.” Sixty-six percent thinks there is too much sensationalism in religion coverage. Only 27.2% of the public thinks that religion coverage is “accurate and fair.”

Full disclosure: In one of my earlier lives, I covered religion. While I wasn’t an expert by any means, I tried to study religions so that I could report more smartly.

Most newspapers are full of religious news and information. Church calendars appear every week. Many papers publish church activities and achievements. Feature stories run about the major Christian, Jewish and Islam holy days. You bet you will find an awful lot of Easter stories in the Saturday, Sunday and Monday papers. My guess is that newspapers also print more positive feature stories than hard news or investigative stories about religion…with the exception a few years ago with sex abuse in the Catholic Church. Letters to the editor regularly attempt to explain the Bible’s passages to the heathens among us.

It is arguable, but I wouldn’t be surprised that once you get past sports and government coverage, religion content ranks pretty high in the number of column inches it gets.

It is true that newspapers publish views that are antithetical to some religious beliefs. It is part of what news organizations must do in covering the world. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they are hostile to religion.

I think Guy Lucas said it right on Facebook yesterday: At every major Christian holiday, my editing of editorial/commentary sections feels more like I’m editing a church bulletin. Someone remind me again why they think the press is anti-religious.

On the other hand, I’m guessing that 37% of the people think newspapers are hostile to any and everything so I suppose it’s par for the course.