Sunday, May 25, 2008

Why the Media Didn't Show

The other day the local paper ran a feature article about my daughter and I attending General Conference. In commenting about it, several people (good Methodists, and some other good Christians) have complained that they didn't see anything about the Conference in the news. Ususally, they said, the state paper has an article, but this time nothing.

In a recent post Larry Hollon, Gen. Sec. of United Meth. Communications, might have the answer. His entire post gives good cause for thinking about the quality of news we receive on a regular basis.

The bipolar template of conflict that is applied to many stories from politics to religion and much in-between, creates its own filter and outcome. I believe it manufactures the news in a way that is detrimental to those who are covered.
In this instance the fact that a 13-million member religious community pledged to join a global partnership to end a killer disease (malaria) and raise $100 million to contribute to the effort was not news. In the scheme of things a protracted disagreement over human sexuality, a disagreement that is now more than a decade old, was still “newsworthy” because it involved conflict.

It’s tiresome. Journalism has fallen into a predictable track and when it heads down this particular track it’s increasingly irrelevant. There is nothing new to say about the debate over sexuality, at least nothing new has been said that I’ve heard. So making conflict the rationale for covering an event of this magnitude and ignoring the wide range of concerns of this number of people seems remarkably out of touch.


Overall, Hollon said that with the incompetence of the way mainstream media covers religion, he wasn't disappointed they didn't show up in Fort Worth.

1 comment:

lhollon said...

Stephen,
Thanks for your reference to my post. After reading the reviews of Scott McClellan's upcoming book in which he says the media did a poor job examining the Bush Administration's claims about the run-up to the war in Iraq, I'm reinforced in my belief that we've got justification to be discerning in our acceptance of reporting. I don't mistrust journalists, but I do think the conflict model of reporting about human sexuality in religion has created its own filters, especially among national media, and this affects how mainline denominations are covered, or go un-reported.
Thanks again.
Larry