Christian convert

Rare reverse New York Times 'Kellerism' as ex-jihadi tells why he converted to Christianity

Rare reverse New York Times 'Kellerism' as ex-jihadi tells why he converted to Christianity

Media hounds -- if you're reading GetReligion that probably means you -- will likely recall the recent dust up involving television news icon Ted Koppel and Fox's Sean Hannity. They went after each other over the impact on the body politic of the often confusing mix of "news" and "opinion" that now dominates American journalism.

It started, you'll remember, when Koppel criticized Hannity in an interview Koppel did with him for CBS. Koppel, a network news traditionalist, labeled Hannity's unabashed advocacy style as "bad" for America.

That followed Hannity's statement -- and Koppel's expressing the opposite opinion -- that Americans were media savvy enough to discern the difference between reported facts and individual opinions. Said Hannity:

We have to give some credit to the American people that they are somewhat intelligent and that they know the difference between an opinion show and a news show.

Koppel and Hannity were talking, in the main, about contemporary cable TV. But as GetReligion writers repeatedly note, the same may be said these days of any news platform -- print, web and broadcast.

I happen to believe that what we were sure was hard news just a couple of decades ago was not entirely free of opinion. Journalism has never been pure (and nobody at this weblog has ever argued that it was). News media have too much influence on political and social issues for the power elite to always resist the temptation to manipulate information for its own ends.

But that's another post. Suffice it to say that I agree that the mixing of fact and opinion today is greater than I've ever witnessed in my 50-plus years in and around the news business. This piece from The Washington Post strikes me as a solid summation of the situation.

Ironically, it's also a clear example of the trend it explains, in that it ran without any label alerting readers that it was loaded with opinion, which it clearly is.

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From Muslim to Christian: The Atlantic offers sensitive look at Berlin community

From Muslim to Christian: The Atlantic offers sensitive look at Berlin community

When you share lentils and rice pilaf with people; when you attend church with them and talk to their pastor; when you pay a follow-up visit weeks later; you naturally convey a more intimate feel for your topic.  This traditional wisdom of journalism is used to great effect in The Atlantic's feature on Muslim converts to Christianity in Germany.

The writer, Laura Kasinof, talks to three Iranian refugees in Berlin. She gets an overview with their pastor, a Lutheran minister, as well as an interchurch leader. She conveys the jubilant mood at a worship service. And she attempts to hint at the size of the trend of conversion, although she doesn't get comprehensive figures.

Kasinof did the story on a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Whatever the sum, it was well spent. Her article is sensitive and thoughtful, and vastly superior to a similar piece in the Daily Beast this spring. As my colleague Julia Duin said then, the Beast somehow managed to link the trend to the U.S. presidential elections. Almost like clicking a nation-level selfie.

Astonishingly, the Daily Beast article has no quotes from any actual refugees, except those it borrowed from a newspaper. The Atlantic article doesn't neglect that vital facet:

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NYTimes' riveting portrait of a Christian in Afghanistan

I have no words to describe this story – A Christian Convert, on the Run in Afghanistan http://t.co/DM87Ey5fpG A Christian Convert on the Run from Murderous Islam. Cherish Your Religious Liberty. This is from the @NYTimes. http://t.co/KsgqoJo1yT

Striking story by NYT's Azam Ahmed: A Christian Convert, on the Run in Afghanistan http://t.co/mjkqHW1n3t (h/t @rcallimachi)

A Christian Convert, on the Run in Afghanistan: “My body is in prison, but my soul is free.” http://t.co/c0gecENREh

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