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RELIGION IN MASS MEDIA: ENTERTAINMENT AND NEWS Religion in Journalism - Much of what we consider today as mass communication has origins in religion. - First newspapers published in 16th century REformation strongholds like Augsburg and Amsterdam. - Pre-20th century media (Newspapers/books) have more religious content. - Majority of radio and TV used for secular entertainment and news. - By 1960's, many social scholars felt that religion was a fading aspect of public life. Journalists and Religion - Possible reason: Journalists themselves. - Journalists less religious than the average American; less likely to attend mass. - More than half of elite journalists express no/minimal religious beliefs. - 76% of Americans identify themselves as Catholics or Christians. - And 18% attend weekly religious services. The Re-emergence of Religion in Mass Media - Late 1970's: journalists and editors began to focus more on religion. - Carter Administration makes journalists see religion's impact on elections, Supreme Court, foreign policy. - Trend continues in 1980's with Reagan, who courted evangelicals as a voting bloc (Bush). - In 1999, GWB listed Jesus Christ as his hero and role model during campaign. - Bush has been criticized for mixing church and state - politics pushed religion into the media. - Politicians used to avoid discussing religion and God, now more common. Growth of "religion journalism" - Controversies like Catholic Church molestation increase coverage. - More long-term coverage, "religion" sections in newspapers. - The phenomenon of religion has reemerged in recent years in liberal democracies and the rest of the world. Journalism and Religion after 9/11 - 9/11 brings up religions issues (Christianity and Islam). - 9/11 encouraged many Americans to openly express their religious faiths. - Influence media to explore elements of radical Islam. - Al Jazeera. - Journalists are more careful because religion is more in the public eye. - Journalists are less likely to casually use the term "Fundamentalist/ism" in describing common religious individuals. - Political influence of Christian conservatives in recent elections also receiving coverage. - Early 1980's: Cable TV increased exposure to religions programming. - Televangelism: - Billy Graham - Hour of Power - PTL - CBN/700 Club - Pat Robertson - CTN - EWTN - Multi-million dollar industry Religion and Television - WIth some exceptions, religious scenarios and issues are rarely covered on entertainment programming. - Content is not anti-religious, but somewhat a-religious. - Joan of Arcadia was in 52nd place in the Nielsen ratings, next to Fox's Nanny 911 and George Lopez . - NBC's Book of Daniel . - In action shows, religious people are often presented as zealots, terrorists or other fanatics. - No federal laws that prohibit or limit religious broadcasting.
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