AND MEDIA INTEREST GROUP NEWS
1. New online newsletter signals changes afoot at
2. RMIG Kansas City program forges new partnerships
3. AEJMC committee reports review RMIG activities
4. Researchers should turn focus to religion and media
5. Secular Politics on the Israeli World Wide Web
6. Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero
online newsletter signals changes afoot at RMIG
Debra L. Mason
RMIG 2002-03 Head
some of you, Spring final exams and graduation ceremonies have
begun their annual appearance.
as the academic calendar gets crowded with year-end rituals,
so too RMIG has been busy this Spring.
of the work is behind the scenes, but it is all designed to improve
RMIG as a place in which colleagues can discuss, share and encourage
research, teaching and knowledge of religion and media in academic
most obvious change for RMIG is the move of RMIG's newsletter
from a print version to this new online edition and the debut
of RMIG's first-ever website.
other divisions and interest groups do an online-only newsletter
and it seemed a good way to cut expenses for RMIG. In the past,
RMIG depended on the charity of the newsletter editor's institution
to pay for the printing and often postage of the newsletter.
With academic budgets pinched, it is harder to find institutions
willing to pay the bill. The cost over a year is more than $500
in paper and postage, so the online version is a real savings
to RMIG's meager budget.
change was announced in a postcard sent to everyone on the RMIG
mailing list, and in an electronic message to all the e-mails
we had. If you didn't get BOTH of these notices, please let me
know which one you didn't receive so we can update our records.
If you're reading this, you obviously received at least one of
addition to saving money, the web is an easy place to archive
old newsletters, which RMIG will do, beginning with this issue.
(We are working on scanning in and putting up PDFs of past issues
but that will take a little time).
course we couldn't put the newsletter online unless we did not
have a website. I'm grateful to Kate Fox of Kate Fox Studio in
Apple Valley, Calif., who generously donated her time to create
the website and assist in the posting of this newsletter. If
you have ideas of things we should link to, or items of interest
to post, please don't hesitate to pass them along to me or David
Scott of University of South Carolina. David is our newsletter
editor. This issue of the newsletter was ably put together by
David, who solicited and edited the articles here.
first item in this newsletter is RMIG's programming for AEJMC's
annual meeting this summer in Kansas City. You can link to general
information about the meeting by clicking www.aejmc.org.
are some other tidbits about members of RMIG or items of interest
to you all:
first Knight Chair in Media and Religion has been selected
and the announcement of the hire will come soon from the University
of Southern California. The Knight Foundation endowed the chair
with a $1.5 million donation. I'll send an e-mail message once
the name is made public.
Teaching Standards Chair Guy Golan, a doctoral student at the
University of Florida, has accepted a position as an assistant
professor at the Manship School of Journalism at Louisiana
RMIG head Judith Buddenbaum of Colorado State University wrote
a chapter on religious diversity in the forthcoming book, Journalism
Across Cultures, by editors Fritz Cropp, Cynthia M. Frisby
and Dean Mills. The book is due out in July from Iowa State
University Press. Click here for more information: http://store.yahoo.com/isupress/0813819997.html.
you have news about yourself or others-personal or professional-
and wish to share it with your RMIG colleagues, please send me
a message at email@example.com.
Debra L. Mason is executive director of Religion NewswritersAssociation.
Kansas City Program Forges New Partnerships
Vice Head/Program Chair Rick Moore of Boise State and Head Debra
Mason attended AEJMC's midwinter meeting last December to schedule
and plan for RMIG's participation in Kansas City.
partnering with divisions and interest groups with whom we had
never worked before, RMIG was able to come up with an interesting
group of panels. It's particularly noteworthy that RMIG is participating
in two mini-plenaries, which are desirable because fewer things
are programmed against miniplenaries and often miniplenaries
have higher attendance because four divisions usually join together
on the programming.
RMIG will have room for at least 15 scholarly works, in two research
panels and a scholar-to-scholar poster session. Research Chair
Eric Gormly reports that RMIG received 33 research papers, an
is the program. Mark your calendars and get your airline tickets
while prices are low!
3:15-4:30 p.m. State of the Freedoms:
Civil, Individual and Social liberties. Mini-plenary
co-sponsored with the Newspaper Division, the
Mass Communication and Society Division, and
the Radio Television Journalism Division.
p.m. AEJMC Keynote speech by humor columnist Calvin
p.m. Reception at Union Station.
8:15 -9:45 a.m. Juried Research Panel.
Up to four research papers.
p.m. AEJMC Plenary.
a.m.-1:15 p.m. "Frequently
asked Questions on the Religion Beat." (Co-sponsor:
Council of Affiliates.)
Journalists covering religion often deal with questions
no other journalists get, such as "When do you reveal
your religion to your sources?" "How do you write
about religions you don't believe in?" "With
so many religions, how do you provide 'balance' in stories?"
This panel will include tips for teaching students about
the religion beat.
Hogan/Albach, The Dallas Morning News
Gray, Kansas City Star
Schaeffer, Wichita Eagle
p.m. Sex, Religion, Media: Covering the Catholic
Church's Priest Scandals and More (Co-sponsor: Mass Communication
and Society Division)
Rice, Religion Reporter, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Roberts, Editor, National Catholic Reporter
L. Thomas, Reporter, Kansas City Star
Walsh, Deputy Director, Trinity College
p.m. RMIG business meeting. Executive Committee Meeting
8:15-9:45 a.m. Race, Gender, Religion
and Media: Understanding Audiences. (Co-sponsored
Berry, Iowa - The Rap Experience: Diversity and Interpretation
Campbell, South Carolina - Clarifying Student Perceptions:
The Evolution of Minority Representation
Sanchez, Pennsylvania State - 21st Century News Media
Williams-Hawkins, Howard - Behold I Stand at the Door
and Knock: Ministers and Congregations Crossing the
p.m. Scholar-to-Scholar research poster sessions.
At least seven of RMIG's juried research papers will
be displayed here.
Session: Reporting on Stem Cell Research: Intersection
Between Science and Religion. (Co-sponsored with Science
Communication Interest Group, Media and Disability, and
Council of Affiliates.)
Buddenbaum, Colorado State
Wilkins, University of Missouri
Musa, Northwestern College, Iowa
p.m. Juried Research Panel. (Up to 4 research papers
p.m. RMIG Research Mentoring Dinner. Off Site. Join
respected researchers in the media and religion field
for an informal evening of learning and fun. Please sign
up in advance by e-mailing Debra Mason at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RMIG members of all experience levels are welcome. This
is the third year for this event. We hope to see you
there. Reservations required.
p.m. AEJMC-wide Gala. The gala will be held at the
18th and Vine District, which celebrates jazz and baseball
through The American Jazz and the Negro Leagues Baseball
Museums. Attendance to both will be free to members.
Committee Reports Review RMIG Activities
year AEJMC committees evaluate every division and interest group
in regard to its success in addressing three components central
to AEJMC's mission: Teaching, Research and Professional Freedom
and Responsibility (PF&R). PF&R includes five areas of
emphasis: free expression, ethics, media criticism and accountability,
racial, gender and cultural inclusiveness, and public service.
is evaluated by three standing committees of AEJMC on its ability
to provide balanced programming for each of these areas.
committees charged with overseeing these mission areas review
reports submitted by the RMIG heads and issue their assessments
each year. Below are the summaries of assessments of RMIG activities
from the 2001-02 academic year, under Kyle Huckins of Christain
Institute of the West as head, Debra Mason as vice head and programming
chair, and Eric Gormley as Research Competition Chair.
evaluations are a way to see what AEJMC leadership think of RMIG's
work and they help point RMIG toward areas to work on the future.
2002 PF&R Report:
With programming in four PF&R areas, the Religion and Media
Interest Group had a good range of PF&R activities for
the year. Their improved coverage of PF&R areas - up from
just one the year before - is noteworthy. The group was the
sole sponsor of three panels, including a panel on religion
in entertainment a panel on the history of religion reporting.
They co-sponsored a panel on international coverage of 9/11
and were primary sponsor of a panel on press coverage of Islam.
With PF&R articles in the newsletter on faith-based reporting
and sources for religious news, the group had good out-of-convention
Outstanding Activity or Project:
The group's impact on ethnic, cultural and religious groups
through their work in organizing and sponsoring panels
that deal with religion and media themes is their top PF&R
accomplishment this year. The emphasis on issues related
to the Middle East is a particular point of pride.
Although there continues to be a lack of diversity in the
group's general membership and leadership, they have an excellent
record on programming with a more diverse group of panelists
and moderators, especially women. The new journal, Journal
of Religion and Media, should provide an important forum
and opportunity for greater PF&R discussion.
2002 Teaching Report:
co-sponsored interesting and timely convention panels this
year, sponsored a teaching and research mentoring lunch for
less experienced faculty to meet with veteran faculty and
published a special theme issue of the newsletter on teaching.
The listserv is used for member exchanges about teaching
and syllabi sharing. Attention to issues of assessment of
student learning in this subject area would be most helpful
for future programming.
2002 Research Committee Report:
year, 14 faculty papers were submitted to the Interest Group.
The current year saw an increase of six faculty paper submissions.
Of the 22 papers submitted, 14 were accepted for a 63 percent
acceptance rate. This rate is the same as last year's high
acceptance rate. Three student papers were submitted and
only one was accepted. The papers were evaluated by 19 judges
who read four papers each. A $100 cash award was given to
the top paper. Faculty and students competed together. Although
the annual report did not address weaknesses, there is one
concern - the competition. It's understandable that at this
stage, there are few student submissions. However few there
are, though, careful consideration should be given to having
faculty and students compete against each other. Perhaps,
the competition should be limited to faculty until there
are enough student papers to have a separate viable competition.
(Editors note: Despite this complaint, students have won
RMIG's top paper prize more often than faculty.)
AEJMC's executive committee is reviewing the role of standing
committees in this evaluation process for its effectiveness
and usefulness. Stay tuned!
should turn focus to religion and media discourse
RMIG Newsletter Editor
now, we have all been inundated with discourse and discussions
in the mainstream media regarding terrorism, people of Arab descent,
Islam or more often, Muslim "fundamentalism."
official rhetoric demarcating Islam from terrorism, however,
it seems that many Americans still harbor fears or stereotypical
opinions of both Arabs and Muslims (often equating the two as
being the same), and terrorism.
hope that we as a nation were beginning to move beyond bias or
hatred were dashed when, as last week I saw new graffiti on a
fence near my home making profane and derogatory remarks about
Arabs and Islam.
same day I saw news coverage of a television advertisement featuring
President Bush's ecclesiastical leader arguing that a war with
Iraq would be "unChristian." Next, a religious spokesperson
(who I did not recognize) said that Bush's minister represented "the
rather than the views of "most American Christians"
who believe that a war with Iraq would be a "just war"
as defined by Biblical history and Christian beliefs.
was shocked! In one fell swoop, this report turned all the rhetoric
stating this war was not about religion on its head!
coverage of religious themes and war-making further illustrate
the need for scholars to examine the relationships between media
and religious organizations or people. Might I re-suggest (others
have touched on this before me) one approach we might apply in
our analysis of media-texts about terrorism, the Middle East,
and the possibility of war? My desire is that we begin to search
for the "preferred reading"
of media texts as discussed by Stuart Hall (and his contemporaries
at the Birmingham School) and that we apply his encoding/decoding
model to examine ways in which audiences apply negotiated readings
to these texts. While Hall and his contemporaries examine how people
who were ideologically left of the media interpreted media texts,
our approach might examine the negotiated or resistant readings
of viewers who are in many cases-because of their religious worldviews-ideologically
situated to the RIGHT of these texts.
researching and reporting on the role of religiosity in the interpretive
practices of audience members, we as scholars might help practitioners
better present divisive issues (such as a war in Iraq) in a way
that reduces stereotypes and generalizations, and instead recognizes
and respects religious diversity. My objective is to begin in
earnest more research of this nature, and I would welcome any
input from all RMIG members who are interested in similar issues.
David Scott is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of
Politics on the Israeli World Wide Web
RMIG Teaching Chair
the month of January, the people of Israel cast their votes for
parliament in the nation's third election in less than four years.
Overall, 29 political parties competed for the trust of the Israeli
on financial constraints and campaign ads regulations, many of
Israel's smaller parties turned to the world wide web as a medium
for articulating their campaign themes and main issues Israeli
public opinion polls indicate that in addition to the peace process,
the economy and government reform, religion and state ranked
as one of the most salient issues in the 2003 Israeli elections.
This issue's saliency can be largely attributed to the campaign
of the Shinui Party.
the elections results came out, many people were surprised to
learn that the Shinui party has expanded its seats in the Israeli
parliament from six to 15, thus making it Israel's third largest
political party. An analysis of the Shinui campaign website indicates
that the party identified the Internet as an important tool in
its campaign arsenal. The website is available in Hebrew, English
and Russian. It allows the reader to not only view all video,
audio and print campaign ads, but to also to read the party's
opinion newspaper, learn about the personal and legislative histories
of all candidates, read press releases, volunteer to work or
aid in the campaign and even donate funds to the campaign.
secular identity of the Shinui party is clearly reflected in
its platform, which calls for the end of the ultra orthodox monopoly
over religious services in Israel (for example marriage, divorce,
conversion). A full implementation of the shinui platform would
dramatically transform the vary nature of the role of religion
in every aspect of Israeli life.
the most salient issues in the 2003 Shinui campaign was the need
for the establishment of a secular coalition between Israel's
three largest secular parties (Likud, Labor and Shinui) and the
exclusion of all ultra orthodox members from such a coalition.
Such rhetoric might seem extreme to the outside spectator, yet,
it serves as a strong indicator of the saliency of the religion
and state issue in the state of Israel.
Guy Golan is completing his doctorate at the University of Florida and will
join the faculty at the Louisiana State University this fall.
Faith and Doubt at Ground
Cecile S. Holmes
University of South Carolina
than a year after Sept. 11, 2001, the tragic memories linger.
For some victims who lost loved ones, they circle like vultures,
eager to attack wounded prey. For others, memories of the image
of the collapse of the World Trade Center's twin towers simply
remain on the edge of consciousness, always sparking more questions.
new PBS Home Video, Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero, revives
a discussion of American spirituality that began after the terrorist
attacks and, in some quarters, has never really ceased.
the New York writer who lost her husband, a fireman, the attacks
marked the beginning of silence in her relationship with God,
she says on the video. The God she once thanked gratefully for
her life's blessings now seems eons away, unhearing and uncaring.
For the Muslim parents whose daughter and son-in-law perished
in the attacks, the only reassurance after hours of prayer is
that their beloved child is with Allah. For the photographer
who ponders the meaning of Sept. 11, raising the questions merely
raises more questions.
with others whose voices are heard in this well-done production
(for sale at www.pbs.org)
the photographer sees his understanding of life, faith and God
forever changed. But he is uncertain in what direction. He says
he didn't believe in a God who pushed cars over cliffs with his
little finger, but saw the Almighty on "A much grander " scale. "What
has happened after Sept. 11 is I wish for the opposite. I wish
I had a God I could access."
unknowable nature of God is explored throughout the video. While
the images shown and the opinions expressed are sometimes disturbing,
the program is tastefully done. It offers an apt starting point
to begin any discussion of faith and doubt, whether that conversation
revolves around the personal issues or national concerns.
Cecile S. Holmes is the former religion editor at The Houston Chronicle
and assistant professor of journalism at the University of South Carolina.
Copyright 2003 Cecile S. Holmes. Used by permission.