I am in the middle or writing a pair of "On Religion" columns about the recent "Getting Religion" conference in Westminster, England, led by the Open University and the Lapido Media network that promotes religious literacy in the press and in diplomatic circles. Click here to read the first of those Universal syndicate columns, if you wish:
However, the main thing that I wanted to share with GetReligion readers -- especially working journalists -- is this video that was shown as part of the conference. No, I wasn't there (my final semester here at the Washington Journalism Center was starting right about that time), but I certainly wish that I could have gone.
Click on to see the full post -- to see the video at the top.
What was the general thrust of this event? Here are some crucial background quotes, the first drawn from published remarks (.pdf here) by Richard Porritt, a former top editor at The London Evening Standard and the British Press Association wire service.
Let this soak in, as a statement about UK media (and elsewhere):
A journalist who is not confident about the facts is dangerous. And with a specialism like religion mis-reporting can lead to widespread misunderstanding. For too long religious affairs -- as editors deem fit to call the specialism -- has been a job palmed off on reporters. It is a role that has traditionally been dodged by the cream of the newsroom for specialisms thought to be more glamorous or hard-hitting. But there is no more vital role in a modern society cluttered with half-truths and myth surrounding religion.
Religion affects us all -- whether we have faith or are atheists. The industry cannot afford to let ignorance grow. Many newsdesks shun real religious news because they believe the subject
matter is too tricky to get across properly -- and the fear of getting anything wrong is too great.
But ignoring these stories, or not reporting them fully, is anti-journalism. It is the exact opposite of why every reporter signs up in the first place -- to uncover the truth and educate your
The media must not avoid hard truths just because they are hard. The time for thoughtful, incisive and investigative coverage of religion and faith is long overdue.
I would also recommend that journalists take a look at the "Religion, Security and Global Uncertainties" report that was issued during this conference. Click here to download the .pdf document. It's heavy reading, at times, but essential. My second "On Religion" column will focus on some of its recommendations.
Enjoy the video, if "enjoy" is the right word. This is sobering, and for GetReligion readers, very familiar material. But even the choir needs to hear this sermon, again.