Mysterious role of religion in Newsweek resurrection?

It’s hard to miss the religious zinger in this passage from a New York Times article about the return of Newsweek to ink-and-paper reality after its quiet existence in cyberspace ever since that famous final cover.

This isn’t very subtle.

Etienne Uzac, 30, and Johnathan Davis, 31, founders of IBT Media, believed they could recreate Newsweek as a vibrant and profitable web-only magazine. But now, having tripled Newsweek’s online traffic, they plan to punctuate the magazine’s comeback by turning on the printing presses again. Hard copies are expected to hit newsstands on Friday.

Break out the banner headline: Newsweek Is Back From the Dead!

Now is that just an over-the-top metaphor or are the editorial troops at the great Gray Lady trying to tell us something?

A former GetReligionista send the URL in the end of the article highlighted. More on that in a minute.

It seems to me, after reading that passage, that there are several GetReligion-related questions implied.

* What kind of religion coverage can readers expect to see in the resurrected newsweekly, both online and in print?

* Will the magazine staff include a trained, talented Godbeat specialist? Lord knows there are plenty of talented folks — young and old — available at the moment.

* Might the religious content of the renewed publication be influenced by the professional and personal backgrounds of the new owners?

Read the following and tell me if I am reading too much into the Times take on this:

When IBT bought Newsweek, Mr. Davis and Mr. Uzac came under scrutiny for their religious ties. An article published on Christianity Today’s website tied the two to a Korean pastor named David Jang, and it described Mr. Jang as a controversial, messianic figure.

Mr. Davis and Mr. Uzac say they are dismayed that their religion has become an issue. They admire Mr. Jang, they said, and acknowledge that Mr. Davis’s wife works at a university Mr. Jang started. They said Mr. Jang had no financial stake in IBT or influence on the business, and the idea that they considered him the messiah was preposterous.

“My faith is my faith, the work is the work,” Mr. Uzac said. “The editorial is 100 percent independent.”

Wait! There is more.

You know that recent Godbeat trend in which news stories about atheism, agnosticism and the religiously-unaffiliated-nones spectrum are — finally — being taken more seriously? Check out this final quote:

Mr. Impoco, the magazine’s editor, said he had not seen any religious or conservative agenda.

“Since I’ve been here I’ve had less interference than any other place I’ve worked,” he said. “We’ve written more stories on atheism than anything religious.”

Mediate on that for a minute. Now, all together: Say what?

More to come, I am sure.

About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

    @Terry
    You are saying that Mr. Impocco seems to be biased toward Atheists, correct? And you are saying this because he is implying that writing about atheism is often “interfered with” which you feel is just the opposite — religion is the one receiving bigotry?

  • smithkl42

    I’d be very interested in hearing your take on the more recent coverage of Newsweek’s revival, especially after the Guardian and Mother Jones pieces. Of the two articles, the Mother Jones one was far more in-depth, and revealed much more concerning information (i.e., potential violations of both immigration and employment law). But nearly all the secondary coverage has focused on the Guardian’s revelation that Johnathan Davis once made an “anti-gay” comment on Facebook.


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