Before we get to this week’s podcast (click here to tune that in) there’s something else we need to do, if readers want to understand the mild sense of grief they will hear during this edition of “Crossroads.”
First, we need to discuss a few journalism cliches. Let’s start with a short exam, in a true and false format. This all falls under the heading: “What do readers really want to see in the news they consume?”
Have you ever made the following statement(s) — or variations on these themes — about the journalism business, and not in jest?
(1) “Well, you know, if it bleeds, it leads.”
(2) “I really wish they would report more good news, instead of just telling us the same bad news over and over.”
(3) “Pay no attention to that story: They just print that kind of bad-news stuff to sell newspapers.”
(4) “There’s so much good that happens in the world of religion. Why do journalists spend so much time covering scandals? If journalists covered more inspiring, ‘spiritual’ stories, they might win me.”
(5) All of the above. And many people end every one of those statements with this refrain: “Journalists are so biased, you know.”
If you answered “All of the above,” then I may have run into you at one time or another during my decades of work defending the vocation of journalism inside religious institutions, including college and seminary classrooms.
How many stars are there in the heavens? I think I’ve heard just about that many religious believers offer one or more of those “I’m tired of journalists doing this” statements, followed by a claim that “If they only ran more positive stuff” then things would be better in America, etc.
So that brings us to this week’s podcast. It was grew out of paying close attention to some statistics about GetReligion traffic — focusing on what kinds of stories people read and forward, and what kinds of stories people, it appears, most readers just don’t want to read.