Kellerism

NYTimes (surprise) covers Mormon sexual ethics, without talking to Mormons

NYTimes (surprise) covers Mormon sexual ethics, without talking to Mormons

There are people out there in cyberspace (and in our comments pages from time to time) who think that, here at GetReligion, "balance" on stories about moral and cultural issues is all about finding the right number of voices on the right to say nasty things about the views of people on the left side of things.

Well, I would prefer to say it this way: When journalists cover controversial moral, cultural and religious issues, the journalistic thing to do is to talk to informed, representative voices on both sides of these hot-button debates. Of course, this journalistic approach assumes that journalists are willing to concede that there are two sides in these debates worth covering with respect.

This brings us once again to the term "Kellerism," a GetReligionista nod to those famous remarks by former New York Times editor Bill Keller. The Times ran a story the other day -- "Social Worker Spreads a Message of Acceptance to Mormons With Gay Children" -- in which it was crucial for readers to understand the moral doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as the view of those who disagree with them.

A GetReligion reader offered this critique:

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Yes, this is The Onion: Why do newspapers publish PR pieces for some churches?

Yes, this is The Onion: Why do newspapers publish PR pieces for some churches?

OK, so the graphic over there is wrong. This is a GetReligion post about an alleged religion "news" item from The Onion.

On one level, that makes no sense. We try to critique the mainstream press, so why bother our readers with an item from a satirical, pretend newspaper?

Well, your GetReligionistas also, from time to time, like to write about op-ed page pieces and commentary essays that are clearly linked to life on the religion-news beat. Most of those are pretty serious.

Obviously, that is not the case this time around.

In fact, I am not sure WHAT is going on in this piece of pseudo-news. But I do have some theories and I'd like to know what GetReligion readers think.

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10 years at GetReligion: Why we are still here, part II (refreshed)

10 years at GetReligion: Why we are still here, part II (refreshed)

Overture: Anyone who has ever worked anywhere as a reporter has had this experience.

With deadline on the near horizon, you turn your story into your editor and then wait at your desk for the verdict. After a few moments, the boss or the assistant boss shoots you a tired glance and says, "Get over here."

The editor then adds a few words that reporters dread hearing: "There's a hole in your story."

These journalism "holes" come in all shapes and sizes, of course. Some of them take minutes to patch. Some, however, may delay the story for a day or two while you chase new information. But what the editor is saying is that you left something essential out of the story, some voice or piece of information that readers really need to have if they are going to understand what is going on in your story.

In a way, this is what GetReligion is all about -- those religion-shaped holes in way too many mainstream news reports about what is going on in the world around us.  

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This 'Kellerism' term is catching on, methinks

This 'Kellerism' term is catching on, methinks

It appears that this new GetReligion term -- "Kellerism" -- is catching on among people who have, for years or decades, been close readers of the cultural bible that is The New York Times.

What is "Kellerism," or the journalism gospel according to former New York Times editor Bill Keller? Click here for a primer.

Now, Rod "friend of this blog" Dreher linked to our Kellerism term in one of his posts explaining his recent decision to cancel his Times subscription. Friends and neighbors, Rod is a cultural conservative who has, as a mainstream journalist, been defending the essential integrity of the Times for a long, long time.

Before we get to his remarks, I want to put them in some context.

Two years ago, Arthur S. Brisbane signed off as the reader's representative for the Times with a column entitled, "Success and Risk as The Times Transforms." He defended the world's most powerful newspaper, yet also made the following observation linked to the hot-button subject of media bias:

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