Religion in the news

Howie Kurtz has a blurb about Mormons in the media. Mormons are not happy about their portrayal in the media. I’d like to muster up an ounce of concern, but I’ve seen the same ignorance in their portrayal of Muslims, even going so far as to assume that all Arabs/Middle Easterners are Muslims which is so not the case. So, it was with slight amusement I read stuff like this:

In reading coverage of Mormon matters, says Stromberg, a former Washington Post editorial writer, journalists “get details wrong all the time, to make the church look totally nuts. It seems like the writer might be trying to hint, ‘My gosh, look at these crazy people.’ “

You can easily put Islam in there and nothing would change. Especially if the writer is a conservative or an elected official (Virgil Goode anyone?). Think of all the stuff you learned about Islam via a news outlet. I can tell you, that 90% of it is probably flat out wrong, and the other 10% is shaky at best. I mean, there are still people actually believe that Muslims don’t believe in God. Isn’t that just stupid? I can probably see understand if it was 1674, but after that, there really is no excuse for the continued ignorance.

“What bothers me about the coverage is that journalists usually go to experts in other faiths,” he says.

Uh-huh…get used to that. If I see another article in the LA Times, slamming Islam written by a some fundamentalist Jew or Christian I’m going to scream. Oh sure, the LA Times is good about getting Dr. Hathout on record for minor issues or LA related issues, but look at national or international issues…where are the Muslims? You’ll have a professor of Theology quoted, an Indian woman who may or may not be Muslim, and conservative pundits, but very few Muslims. Meanwhile, a cursory glance at press releases from mosques and Islamic organizations worldwide, will give exact quotes and there’s nothing in the media.

“Some Mormons feel picked on in the press and are sensitive about what they read about the church,” Soukup says.

Still, she doesn’t feel hindered by her religion. “I felt it almost opened more doors for me because people were curious,” she says.

Good for her. I don’t think a Muslim woman in the country will ever have similar opportunities in the world of journalism.

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2 thoughts on “Religion in the news

  1. Actually, journalists get all kinds of faith reporting wrong. I’m an Episcopalian, and I can’t even count the number of times that major newspapers have printed something completely erroneous about us–something that would have been corrected if they had gone to any expert or even a well-informed layman.

    I take your point that Mormons are now complaining about the kind of inaccurate coverage that Muslims have been putting up with for a long time. But basically, the only time I see journalists going to experts is when the topic is Roman Catholicism or Judaism. The rest of the time they seem to pretty much guess, or ask the guy at the next desk, or print something they heard or read on the net.

    You’d think that being a member of a frequently mischaracterized and misunderstood religion would make Romney more sensitive to discrimination and the need for minority rights, but apparently he’s just not built that way. If we’re waiting for Romney to feel compassion for the marginalized because his religion is being publically marginalized, we’ll wait a long time.

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  2. It’s like religious dart board, eh? They just put up random stuff they heard and throw a dart to figure out what to put in their silly little articles.

    You know what I find funny? On Saturday, the LA Times used to run a religious section. (I say used to run, because I don’t recall seeing it in the past 15 or so months). They’d do these stories on varios religions and even on the non-religious. It was a wonderful feature that gave you a little glimpse into others beliefs. Even in that section, they’d get facts wrong and that was with talking to an expert in that religion.

    I don’t know about Romney…he doesn’t seem intent on setting records straight. Actually, I don’t think he should have to. The whole situation is just plain stupid to me. I shouldn’t be held captive by the ignorant masses who refuse to actually learn about other religions. Who cares if a Mormom wants to be president? As long as his religion doesn’t affect my everyday life, I’ll be cool with it (though, I will not be cool with Romney as my president).

    But the point you bring up about Romney’s lack of compassion for others is just interesting. It shows that Romney is a conservative first, a Mormon second.

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