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Is European-style, opinion-marbled journalism playing a bigger role in American news?

Is European-style, opinion-marbled journalism playing a bigger role in American news?

I'm often frustrated by one of American journalism's most cherished, but abused, conceits. 

I'm referring, broadly, to "he-said she-said" journalism (HSSS, from here on), the standard news format of contrasting statements meant to convey a sense of fair-mindedness no matter how much stronger, by which I mean believable, one statement is compared to another. It's just so easy to cheat and hide bias and a lack of fairness, even while appearing to do the opposite.

I'm sure you've read an HSSS story with some quote that had you mumbling to yourself, "That's utter crap." Or perhaps you've worded it more strongly? I sure have.

We're taught HSSS in college Journalism 101. It's the mark of "objectivity" (yes, those are scare quotes meant to convey skepticism), the promised redemption of American journalism that never really was and never will be.

Of course, we are talking about a mythical objectivity that represents a kind of blank-slate mental state, as opposed to "objectivity" defined (classic work here, "The Elements of Journalism") in terms of professional standards of accuracy, fairness and respect for the many voices involved in public debates. Those kinds of professional standards are exactly what GetReligion keeps trying to defend.

I struggle with poorly executed HSSS journalism just as "omniscient anonymous voice" journalism bugs GetReligion editor Terry Mattingly. Click here if you need a refresher on his views. He is primarily opposed to hard news newspaper and wire-service journalists -- as opposed to the authors of magazine essays and opinion pieces -- using massive amounts of information and opinion without giving readers any clear indication of where all that material is coming from.

i do not disagree with Terry on that. The raw material leading to journalistic conclusions should be spelled out. Think of it as connecting the dots. Think of it as simple honesty.

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There's plenty of global religious freedom news beyond the Kim Davis case

There's plenty of global religious freedom news beyond the Kim Davis case

If you read GetReligion even sporadically, you must know that mainstream news coverage of religious freedom issues receives a great deal of attention on this blog, for many reasons.

Perhaps the prime reason is that they play a leading role in the societal and political conflicts marking this era of rapid social change. That keeps them constantly in the news, and that can't be ignored when you're a blog devoted to media coverage of religion issues. Plus, issues of freedom of conscience are often linked -- globally -- to freedom of the press.

For Americans, the case of Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who cites religious belief for refusing to issue marriage licenses -- containing the endorsement of her name and/or signature -- to same-sex couples, has been the latest U.S. religious freedom headline hog.

What is her church? Here's a link to an interesting Reuters piece about her Apostolic Christian faith, via Yahoo.

 What comes next? Will the Muslim flight attendant for an American airline who says she was suspended from her job for refusing to serve alcoholic drinks be the next religious freedom cause célèbre? It will be interesting to see what sort of religious community support she, a Muslim, receives.

Look, I'm fully aware that Americans are most interested in issues that impact them as Americans.

But the rest of the world has its own melange of religious freedom issues  -- some a matter of life and death, literally.

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