As I stated early on, Doug and I will try not to turn this into a blog about "The Passion of the Christ" in the next few days. However, this whole blogging thing has me curious about what interests readers and what does not. For example, a gag item on Britney gets comments.
But two serious stabs at the journalistic issues in mainstream coverage of THE MOVIE gets zippo response.
So I have some consumer questions, early on in the life of this blog.
Were the posts too long? Too long for weekend reading? Did they focus too specifically on "in house" journalism issues? Do you like substantial quotes from the article being reviewed? Or just hyperlinks?
Please remember that our goal is to promote journalistic coverage of religion in the mainstream. We think religion deserves a place at the table, next to beats such as law, education, sports, technology, science, politics, etc. This is what we are here for -- to shine a spotlight on the "faith ghosts" that haunt many news stories. We also want to point out problems on the beat.
Here's one that bugs us. In a major interview with Mel Gibson, the Los Angeles Times included the following background.
For the last year, Gibson has been embroiled in a controversy with a group of Jewish and Christian scholars and activists who criticized the script as having the potential to incite anti-Semitism. They now openly criticize the film, which they say portrays Jews negatively. From Gibson's point of view, he was ambushed, his rights as an artist violated before he had even finished making his film.
Anyone who has charted this media storm has seen this kind of statement dozens of times.
Note the generic reference to a group "of Jewish and Christian scholars and activists." There are no names. No descriptions of who they are and from where they hail. What seminaries? What religious movements or groups?
The reader is left to think that the views of these anonymous critics are normative. No one disagrees with them. Also note that the article clearly -- as it should have -- noted that Gibson is showing the film to hand-picked audiences. These groups are named and labeled.
Where are the names and labels on the other side? One way to find out is to look up "The Jesus War" from The New Yorker.