God and the AP top 10 list

20060120 164648 27434While I was out on the road, our friends at Poynter.org ran the latest of my columns in the "Journalism With a Difference" series on ethics and diversity. This one is entitled "Religion in (or Out) of the News" and focuses on the religion ghosts hidden -- or dancing right out in the open -- in the Associated Press list of the top 10 stories of 2005. The column flashes back to an interview with the late George Cornell, who, for many decades, was the AP's only Godbeat specialist for planet earth. Cornell saw religion all over the place (and so does Martin Marty).

"Look at every major flash point in the world. There's almost always a religious element involved -- and it's almost always a powerful one," Cornell told me. That was back in the early 1980s, when I was researching my graduate project at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "The same thing is going on in the human-rights struggles around the world," he said. "People just don't see where the hammer is falling -- where the vital brew is brewing. Religion is usually mixed up in it."

In fact, Cornell said he could not remember a year in which the Associated Press list did not have at least five stories that included a strong news hook linked to debates about religion, ethics or morality. Often, the number was higher than that.

This was certainly one of those years. I scored it as seven or eight out of 10. Check it out and let me know the GetReligion score you would have assigned this list.

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