MediaWatch August 1993

Vol. Seven No. 8

Media's Lack of Religion Addressed

Absence of Chalice

Since Washington Post reporter Michael Weisskopf called Christians "largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command" in a February 1 story, the media's shallow coverage of religion received some overdue attention.

In the July/August Columbia Journalism Review, Time political writer Laurence Barrett admitted: "Newspapers, magazines and networks frequently assign African-Americans to cover civil rights stories and related issues. Women journalists of a liberal bent often write about feminist concerns. Even if we had more conservative evangelicals in the ranks, I doubt they would be employed the way blacks and women have been. Conservative Christians are politically suspect." Barrett blamed "the cultural chasm dividing most national political writers and editors from the roughly 20 percent of the population that constitutes the core of the white, conservative evangelical movement."

Similarly, Scripps-Howard religion columnist Terry Mattingly described the greatest bias in the July/August Quill. "Bias of world view. It is hard to write a good story if you don't care that it exists." Mattingly wondered: "Can the `media elite' afford to offend a large segment of the population in an age of declining interest in newspapers and traditional network news?" Indeed, Barrett found "one reason for the deepening alienation of religious conservatives is that they've just about tuned out the mainstream media."