Media should not shy away from covering religious issues Featured

One of the most important aspects of human life that has been deliberately or negligently ignored by the media is religion. This could be due to popular perceptions within the mainstream

(read secular) media that regard matters religion the exclusive preserve of the clergy. This keep-off- religion -matters attitude may also be attributed to the professional challenges facing journalists in trying to present religious issues in a balanced manner acceptable to all religious diversities. Viewed in a broader perspective, religion is not just a mere subject. It is rather a way of life, a value, defining who we are and who we are not, why we are and why we are not.

On a daily basis, faith influences all spheres of human life from family and healthcare to business and politics. Journalists should therefore not miss to see the place of religion in the lives and hearts of the people who comprise society and extract stories of human interest accordingly. There is a huge value to religion reporting that it is not possible to highlight in this brief text. Unlike denominational or sectarian publications which serve specific constituency of readers, and may not be free from their own prejudices, religion reporting by the secular media provides a neutral service to all readers regardless of religious inclination. Besides informing
the masses objectively, it encourages healthy dialogue from all sides as readership is all-inclusive. Hence, the media would be playing one of its most important roles by promoting dialogue among world civilizations and cultures.

Religion reporting also brings in the much desired diversity to the news content. As much as it is important to read about politics, business, healthcare and sports etc; an additional column on religion would also help break the daily monotony of the traditional newspaper menu. Journalists should not assume that there is little to cover on religion. The people of faith of all religions are amongst those grappling with the most serious issues affecting mankind. Though normally given only a bird’s eye view by the media, they are at the forefront in providing education, medical services and fighting poverty. Their contribution in caring the elderly and
disabled, providing HIV/Aids services and improving prison conditions is exceptional. During civil wars, faith-based organizations are usually the first to meet and welcome refugees and give shelter. In natural and man-made disasters, they are often the first on the scene. What journalists need to understand is that faith plays a major role in someone’s motivation for doing something. It is something that should be highlighted by giving the coverage it deserves.

It is really a social tragedy that the secular media is often less inclined to report on religious matters unless it involves scandal by the clergy or inter-religious conflicts. Too often, stories on religion are covered with an anti-religious bias. Apparently, what happens is that if you don’t get so much negative reporting about religion, you get no reporting. In cases where there is an attempt to give positive coverage, the stories suffer from lack in background depth. Nevertheless, consumers of news should not have the perception that journalists are anti-religious, the truth is that they ascribe to religious beliefs like everybody else. The problem is that they are not adequately informed on matters religion, at least from the professional side. Media training institutions do not include religion reporting in their curriculum and editors do not seem to realize that religion is important enough to assign a reporter. Journalists would therefore rather stay away from the story about which they know nothing than try to report on it and that is why you have these real gaps in representations of religious communities and ideas.

In our present era where information is power, and where religious extremism is often blamed for prevalence of conflicts across the world, it is high time journalists change the status quo in the newsroom. They should not only just write what they believe is more balanced by not making it so accusatory, but also
look at stories about religion that show a genuine contribution to the society. It is important that coverage of religion not be monolithic or uniform. It must be nuanced, thoughtful and diverse to reflect the nuanced, thoughtful ways in which our very diverse and widely different people express their religion. Well, it is understandable that many editors and reporters are hesitant to cover religion stories because they are concerned it will may across as advancing a particular agenda. All the same, these fears are misplaced when weighed against the important role that religion coverage would play in society. I think, if religion reporting is done correctly, employing the universal principles of good journalism, these are valuable stories that need to be told. And if they’re done well, they can be an
invaluable service to the readership and the global community at large.

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1 comment

  • Comment Link Terina Petton Tuesday, 01 November 2016 12:26 posted by Terina Petton

    Our curriculum at the College of Pipsologywill make a strong attempt to cover all facets of currency trading.

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