If you have followed GetReligion very long then you are probably aware that questions are also be asked on the other side of the Atlantic about the fact that a high percentage of mainstream journalists just don't understand the basic facts about many religious news events and trends.
In England, a group called Lapido Media is at the heart of most of these "getting religion" discussions. It's work in the field of media literacy has been mentioned quite a bit here at GetReligion in the past.
Now the discussion has moved a notch or two higher, according to a recent notice posted online. To make a long story short, we're talking about the launch of a new "All Party Parliamentary Group on Religion and the Media."
Brainchild of Yasmine Qureshi, Pakistan-born MP for Bolton South East, and moderated by Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, it is part of a range of responses to the Living with Difference Report (.pdf here) published earlier this year by the Woolf Institute’s Commission on Religion and Belief in Public Life in Britain.
The theme of an initial round-table discussion was "Is there a perceived lack of religious literacy in the media?" The speaker was a friend of this blog, Lapido Media founder Dr Jenny Taylor.
You can click here to get a .pdf document of her remarks. Please do so. But here is a short taste:
I speak as a journalist who trained with the Yorkshire Post and has worked in news all her life except for the five years of my doctorate which was completed in 2001, before 9/11.
For sure the media has a problem with religion. After all, as Bernard Levin famously quipped: "Vicars rhymes with knickers.’ It’s difficult to take seriously."
It was not until my own eyes became religiously attuned that I realized the West had become a menace to the whole world because of its secularist blinkers.
The world is full of religion -- and we meddle at our peril unless we understand that.
Where the media do not “get religion” they pose a serious threat to democracy and ultimately to the well-being of the country, through misinterpretation and bias which governments then feed off.
The media tell the nation’s stories. Where there are lacunae in Britain as vast as we have at present, whole communities remain ghostlike, their reality a chimera.
Taylor then mentions a book -- "Blind Spot: When Journalists don’t get Religion" for Oxford University Press -- produced by scholars and journalists connected to the Media Project, the same team that works with GetReligion and a host of other continuing education projects based at The King's College in New York City.
Thus, let me stop there. The hope is that GetReligion can actually work with Lapido on some of these projects, including a new book on media literacy on religion and, hopefully, some events in the United Kingdom.
Stay tuned. And follow Lapido Media on Twitter for updates, as well.