Apparently reporters and religion don’t mix

“One-half (50.2%) of all reporters say a major challenge to covering religion is a lack of knowledge of religion.”

Alright, what is up with this? We are people that are supposed to know what the hell we’re talking about, especially when it’s a topic prominent in EVERY culture and a topic we have to cover all the time. How the hell do over half of reporters not understand the religion they’re covering?

The figure comes from a survey given out two years ago by the USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism. Though a little outdated, I have a feeling the percentage hasn’t dropped much since then. What I don’t know is why. Why in the world are reporters not making themselves familiar with an aspect of a huge amount of peoples lives? People we’re constantly writing and informing the public about. We’ve got to hold ourselves accountable for understanding this part of people’s lives.

“Perhaps not surprisingly, two-thirds of the public think religious coverage is scandal-driven. About 30 percent of journalists agree.”

The first sentence doesn’t surprise me. The second one does.

If we’re all coming to a conclusion that we’re only covering religious scandals, why are we not trying to change that? I’m not a religious person, but I’m fascinated by it; the people, the culture, the beliefs and values. So how are we covering the scandal within it and not much else?

I’m not being high and mighty here. There’s a lot I could still learn about various different religions. There’s so many with so many sects and rules and beliefs it’s hard to keep track of them all. But as reporters, it’s our job to get the facts right and I hope that we can drop that percentage down a bit.

Now, I’m going to go read the Qur’an.

-Haley L.

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