10 years of GetReligion: Arne’s view from 10,000 feet

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Rev. Dr. Arne H. Fjeldstad is a veteran journalist who worked at a variety of mainstream Norwegian newspapers and then as a publisher in Egypt and North Africa. He is also a Lutheran pastor and has a doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary. He leads The Media Project, which includes GetReligion.

***

Mainstream media is up for a big challenge in the coming years. Nope, I am not talking new technology, lack of finances for print media and rapidly declining numbers of readers both for magazines and the daily newspaper. Or any other of the many rapid changes in media reality today. I am talking about the challenge of a paradigm shift in mainstream media.

Possibly the challenge is even greater in Europe (where I live when I am not on the road or in an airplane at 10,000 feet) but also US media as well as many media elsewhere in the world will need to change their attitude and policy. Start focusing for new ways to meet the growing demands for real knowledge about the world, the society and the neighborhood. Real knowledge that will include knowledge about history, culture and religion. Yes, religion.

Religion will be the key to the ongoing paradigm shift. It’s all about religion and the impact of faith in any culture, in any country or region of the world. The challenge for any news media is to “get religion.” Understand its impact — good and bad. Simply because religious faith, religious culture and religious history again and again are the key to understand why news happens.

“We are at the end of the secularist era. The New Religious Era is upon us,” says the British expert on religion and media, Dr. Jenny Taylor who runs Lapido Media in the United Kingdom. Great Britain is home to a conglomerate of faiths and cultures with the Anglican church in sharp decline and a growth of postmodern and post-postmodern spirituality. They are facing a rapidly changing society and a changing culture as well. Religion is starting to play a crucial role. Tayor adds:

“Religion is trendy. (Not Christianity of course. Not church. Perish the thought.) But any shaven-headed sociologist with an ear-ring, any hijabbed and articulate ‘outreach worker,’ any multi-faith professional in fact will look oddly at you if you mention the traditional reticence of the British about faith. Good grief. Even the leader of the English Defence League is ‘taking religious instruction’ from the sheikh — Usama Hasan — who runs Quilliam Foundation.”

The new religious era is still at its beginning and will need to fight its way through the minds of people and into the newsrooms.There is a lot of “old beliefs” still present in the minds of very intelligent, highly educated and tech savvy journalists in the West. They are in for a surprise — and a challenge.

Dr. Stewart M. Hoover (click for .pdf) expresses the “old faith” of media professionals in these words:

[Read more...]

BBC misses religious-liberty ghost in St. Francisville, La.

YouTube Preview Image

Through the years, your GetReligionistas have gone out of our way to note that it’s a good thing, every now and then, for journalists to end up on the other side of a reporter’s notebook or camera lens.

This can be a sobering experience, in large part because it helps us realize the kinds of decisions that journalists get to make when editing the statements and information offered by other people. It is hard for working journalists to realize what it is like to be, using that crucial Poynter.org term, the “stakeholders” whose lives have to some degree been changed by the publication of a story.

There are, of course, sins of commission committed against stakeholders. Journalists may get facts wrong, mangle quotes or pull a person’s words completely out of context in a way that changes their meaning.

Then there are the more frequent sins of omission. One of the most common is when a journalist interviews someone for an hour or so and, in the end, uses one or two sentences from an interview without any consideration for whether those remarks have anything to do with the central argument being made by the person being interviewed.

Recently, a BBC crew came to visit Rod “friend of this blog” Dreher at his home in St. Francisville, La., for a piece that focused on the degree to which Americans out in flyover territory, out in the red zip codes (click here, please, for an amazing graphic), feel disconnected from the values and agenda of their national government.

The video piece itself appears at the top of this post. The short note that accompanied the feature states, in part:

Rod Dreher lives 1,000 miles – and a world away — from the partisan politics that have paralyzed Washington DC in recent years. After living in big US cities for several years, the writer and editor for the American Conservative magazine moved back with his wife and children to the small Louisiana town where his family had lived for five generations.

In St Francisville, his family sought — and found — the support that comes from living in a tight-knit community. The desire of local people to come together to talk and solve problems, he says, is in stark contrast to the behaviour of politicians at the national level.

Dreher says America is making the same mistakes that led to the end of the Roman Empire: the capital is too far removed from the real needs of the people in the provinces who feel ever more alienated from their rulers.

And what is the ultimate point of the video, which is to say what was the ultimate point of the Dreher interview?

I cut off that part of the BBC explanatory note. View the piece for yourself and ask this basic question: “What is the thesis statement of this piece, especially it’s thesis about what needs to happen in American politics?”

[Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X