Saturday, September 23, 2006


Religion Reporting Today

Denis Boyles has an excellent piece on the difficulties British reporters have when covering stories of a religious nature. Though the reporters may know how to write well, but when covering something complicated, such as the Pope's address to the Representatives of Science at the University of Regensburg, they report quite inaccurately.

We all know by now that Benedict quoted a 14th century emperor stating that Islam's violence is unreasonable. What we may not all understand is that Benedict's address was not necessarily about Islam, but about faith and reason. It was about the marriage between Hellenstic thought and Christianity, how this marriage has encountered difficulties over the years, and how Benedict believes that this marriage is the root of Europe.

The reporters, instead of covering what Benedict was really saying, chose to lift a little piece of a speech in which Benedict was quoting someone else. They then acted as ventriloquists for Benedict, attributing the 14th century emperor's words as Benedict's words.

As a pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), I can certainly sympathize with the frustration the Vatican must be feeling. Each time our General Assembly meets and passes a report, makes a statement, or proposes a change to the Book of Order, the American press butchers what has actually happened.

My question is this: Why can't reporters report accurately about religion? If a reporter is unfamiliar with Presbyterian polity, for example, why can't they find someone who is an expert to interview? It would take little effort for one to be found at a General Assembly meeting. Are reporters so hell-bent on getting a story out first, or on meeting a deadline that they neglect the responsibility to check their facts?

It really makes me wonder--if they don't report accurately in my area of expertise, are they also reporting inaccurately in areas in which I am not an expert? Why should I trust what the press says about anything?

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?