Reporters say they don’t know much about religion

USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism / University of Akron Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics

First, a caveat: The telephone surveys used for the conclusions you are about to read were conducted two years ago. But the report, which was just released, shows the disconnect between the public and journalists when it comes to religion.



Lack of knowledge a problem for reporters: "One-half (50.2%) of all reporters say a major challenge to covering religion is a lack of knowledge of religion," the report says. Just 19 percent of reporters say they are “very knowledgeable” about religion, a third consider themselves "knowledgeable," 40 percent say they're "somewhat knowledgeable," about 10 percent say they're don't know much at all.

Force for good or evil? The public is generally split between those who believe religion is a force for good (about 53 percent) and those who believe the opposite (about 44 percent). More than half of journalists, however, say it's a mix.

Quality of coverage: Perhaps not surprisingly, two-thirds of the public think religious coverage is scandal-driven. About 30 percent of journalists agree.

The report also says that white evangelical Christians are under-represented among journalists who cover religion.

Earlier: Only 1 in 5 Americans believe journalists are “friendly” toward religion || Related training: Religion, Culture and Society: Getting Beyond the Cliches (free, self-directed News University course) | Reporting on Religion and Political Candidates (Live News U Webinar on April 11; $9.95)

  • Steve Myers

    Steve Myers was the managing editor of Poynter.org until August 2012, when he became the deputy managing editor and senior staff writer for The Lens, a nonprofit investigative news site in New Orleans.

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