Monday, May 4, 2009

A model for journalism in religion coverage

Ron Lieber's fantastic column in The New York Times on Friday is a model for how journalism can tackle religion respectfully.  That this approach to journalism and religion is rare is a disappointment.

Lieber looked at the moral dimensions of debt -- he quoted N. Eldon Tanner of the Church -- by comparing debt to bondage.

But how do we forgive debt in a time of economic trial?  He swept across a variety of moral traditions and even quoted the Holy Quran respectfully and what I perceived to be thoughtfully.

He rationally suggested that religion provides some useful thoughts on these topics.

In the 1990s, scholar Mark Silk -- in his seminal book Unsecular Media -- argued that news media cover religion only through superficial stereotypes (he calls them topoi), and that a challenge to media is to actually cover religion in ways that reflect how people actually live it.

Lieber's column is the best I have ever seen in major media, ever, in utilizing what religions actually say and attempts to be among the most respectful.  I say this while asserting that I sense he doesn't fully agree with President Tanner.

Kudos to The New York Times for this excellent piece of work.

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