AND MEDIA INTEREST GROUP NEWS
MATTERS Winter 2006
The Newsletter of the Religion and Media Interest Group
of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication
1. Editor's Introduction
2. The Chair's Corner
3. Research Topics Involving Hurricane Katrina
4. News Content and the Religion Debate
5. Hurricane Katrina and the Media: What went
6. Acknowledgement and Applause
8. Dates to Remember
RMIG Newsletter Editor
articles in this newsletter focus on the controversy of media
coverage concerning Hurricane Katrina and features opinions and
analysis from RMIG board members of how religion in some instances
became a part of the coverage.
new Chair Hillary Warren also introduces herself and discusses
the direction for the group which includes building relationships
and collaborating with other AEJMC interest groups for panels
that address a variety of issues.
Chair Ralph Frasca looks at how Hurricane Katrina poses some
unique research questions and how religion has shaped some of
Head and Program Chair Amanda Sturgill adds to the discussion
about Hurricane Katrina and other news events of 2005 with an
analysis on the news value of "conflict" and whether
or not "conflict" in these stories is merited.
Eleanor Block provides also an extensive source list of selective
Internet sites which provide extensive information on Hurricane
Katrina and the aftermath. The sites particularly address the "why" behind
the coverage of Katrina and give a more in-depth look at how
the media evaluate themselves.
is also a note about a recent achievement by one of our members.
Congratulations to Dr. Dane S. Claussen of Point Park University
who has been appointed to become the next editor of Journalism
& Mass Communication Educator.
be sure to note important deadlines coming up and a dissertation
fellowship opportunity and faculty opening at The Center for
Religion, the Professions, and the Public in the School of Journalism
at the University of Missouri.
hope you enjoy this issue where we analyze the coverage of Katrina
and the media and continue to explore the marriage of religion
and media. Please let me know what you think and if you are interested
in announcing achievements and or opportunities for members.
I look forward to hearing from you at email@example.com.
those of us who have been studying religion and media for a number
of years, but have felt like we were in the wilderness, this
is an exciting time. Following media coverage of natural disasters
like Hurricane Katrina, commercial success of "The Passion," the
re-election of George W. Bush and the battle over "intelligent
design" v. evolution in the schools, interest in religion
among journalists and academics has grown.
was recently at the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion
conference and noticed that rather than seeing only one or two
religion and media panels programmed, there were also religion
and media papers throughout the conference. I spoke about media
coverage on a panel concerning religion and public health and
found that there are not just JMR researchers anymore; they're
sociologists, economists and political scientists who are realizing
that the relationship between religion and media is relevant
to their work as well.
also an exciting time for the Religion and Media Interest Group.
We've just come through our first assessment from AEJMC and I'm
pleased to report that the reviewers applauded our conference
programming and our focus as a group. We do have a challenge,
however. We have a large membership for an interest group, but
many of our members send their papers to other interest groups
or divisions for the research competition. I'm glad to see that
those papers are being presented and that other areas of AEJMC
are welcoming papers that deal with religion, but we'd like to
see that work be part of our research panels. One misconception
that may have led some authors to consider other venues is the
belief that we are only interested in journalism but this couldn't
be further from the truth. RMIG has co-sponsored panels on the
media and gay marriage, the public relations and the crisis in
the Catholic Church and numerous sessions on religion and popular
culture. We welcome work from a critical/cultural perspective
and work that broadly defines religion and spirituality. If you
are a member of this group and are working on a paper to submit
this spring, please consider RMIG. One of the benefits is getting
to present your work among peers who are focused on religion
and media and have the theoretical background to provide quality
feedback and suggestions for publication.
the next year, RMIG will be doing more to reach out to newer
members of the interest group and, in particular, to welcome
graduate students and new faculty to participate as moderators
and discussants. It's hard for me to believe that RMIG has now
been around long enough that we have members who started out
as graduate student members and are now officers. I'm one of
those people and we need to ensure that current students and
junior faculty find RMIG as welcoming as I did. They need RMIG
as a resource and an intellectual home as most doctoral programs
don't have faculty in this area. I'd love to hear suggestions
for how we can do more to welcome these newer AEJMC members and
encourage them to participate in our programming and research
I'd like to welcome the new officers. Amanda Sturgill of Baylor
is Vice-Head and Program Chair and is hard at work on programming
for San Francisco. Ralph Frasca of Marymount is Research Chair
and has a wealth of experience in running research competitions.
Eleanor Block of Ohio State University is continuing as Secretary
and will be researching bylaws for our consideration at next
year's meeting. Gail Henson of Bellarmine has a wealth of ideas
to contribute as Teaching Chair and Cecile Holmes of South Carolina
brings her extensive professional experience to serve as PF&R
chair. Finally, I want to especially recognize Crystal Lumpkins,
a graduate student at the University of Missouri, who has made
this newsletter possible.
Topics Involving Hurricane Katrina
RMIG Research Chair
tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath invite analysis
of the mass media and how they functioned regarding this disaster.
For our purposes in RMIG, Hurricane Katrina poses interesting
instance, did this hurricane have religious significance? Some
evangelical Christian leaders employed the airwaves to suggest
that Katrina fits into a larger context. Hearkening to Biblical
prophecy regarding the End Times, Trinity Broadcasting Network's
Hal Lindsey stated that Katrina demonstrates "the judgment
of America has begun." The 700 Club's host Pat Robertson
wondered, "have we found we are unable somehow to defend
ourselves against some of the attacks that are coming at us,
either by terrorists or now by natural disaster? Could they be
connected in some way?" Christian radio commentator Charles
Colson speculated that God allowed the hurricane "to get
our attention so that we don't delude ourselves into thinking
that all we have to do is put things back the way they were and
life will be normal again."
also saw a connection between the hurricane and terrorism preparation.
He noted, "one lesson I observed from Katrina is that we
had better win the war on terror and resolve to prevent another
9-11. Katrina exposed how easy it would be to take a city out."
research question: did the federal government exert too much
control of the media in the disaster zone? For several days after
Katrina, federal troops blocked reporters from access to corpse
recovery in New Orleans. Several photographers and camera crews
reported troops threatened them and confiscated their film.
another: how did the media portray the survivors' reliance on
religious faith? For instance, The New York Times reported
that 80 percent of survivors surveyed said their faith was very
important to them, and 81 percent said surviving Katrina strengthened
their beliefs, while only 4 percent said the ordeal weakened
I warmly invite you to serve as a judge of RMIG research papers
for this year's AEJMC convention. To accept this invitation,
please e-mail me your contact information and general subjects
about which you feel most comfortable reading (e.g., law, content
analysis, broadcasting). Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hillary Warren tells me that the Council of Divisions voted this
year to shift research-paper submissions online beginning in
Content and the Religion Debate
By Amanda Sturgill
RMIG Vice-Head and Program Chair
the time of this writing, the happy holidays/merry Christmas
controversy was a major religion story in local and national
media. And even our 30,000-circulation daily here in Waco, Texas,
had a story about a local mega church canceling services on Christmas
major feature of these stories seems to be having the extreme
viewpoint, representing a bizarreness news value, with balance
coming from interviews with other members of the clergy or parachurch
groups representing balance and adding conflict to the news value.
is the conflict really there? Is it bigger than other potential
areas of conflict? This was a rich fall for these types of stories.
Pat Robertson suggests the U.S. should "take out" Hugo
Chavez. And, as syndicated columnist Leonard Witt pointed out "Ah,
Pat, Pat, Pat. Thank you, Pat. Whenever there's a slow news day,
we can always count on you to liven things up with your special
wisdom." When Franklin Graham suggested that Hurricane Katrina
was divine punishment for Mardi Gras, The Charleston Post-Courier ran
a column from a local pastor who suggested that this is not logical
views are always there within and between faith communities.
But I think most adherents would not want to resolve differences
by debating them before an audience that is unlikely to understand
the motivations of each side and the finer points of the debate.
statements that are bizarre are news. Sometimes it is important
to underscore the bizarreness by having a statement of a mainstream
viewpoint, for example when media ran stories quoting Muslims
in America about views on jihad and terrorism after Sept. 11.
But many times, a view that is bizarre and extremist is self-evident
as such. Perhaps what goes with out saying should, in fact, not
Katrina and the Media: What went wrong?
By Eleanor Block
was no other news story in 2005 that received as much coverage
in every type of media as Hurricane Katrina including the death
of Pope John Paul II and the war in Iraq. It was a year in which
weather news and particularly Hurricanes Katrina and Rita dominated
the news. Within a very brief time after the start of Hurricane
Katrina, criticism of its coverage began. Bloggers had a field
day while much of the coverage was also criticized by the mainstream
press and broadcast outlets.
search of the Internet reveals hundreds if not thousands of sites
that provide information how the media covered Hurricane Katrina.
Many sites also reveal how colleges and universities covered
Katrina in their own press or through special projects undertaken
by students in journalism departments.
following are some selective sites which focus specifically on
the second part of the title; what went wrong? It is first and
foremost a record of a fairly profound self-examination or soul
searching by seasoned and student journalists who knew that something
went wrong and want to see that it does not continue or recur.
ATHENS NEWS: JOURNALISM PROS DISCUSS WHAT WENT WRONG, RIGHT WITH
A panel discussion at Ohio University in which, "four distinguished
journalism professionals" examine issues of race and class
and media coverage.
CENTER FOR JOURNALISM AND TRAUMA
Journalists from CNN, BBC News, The Denver Post and The
Oklahoman tell their own stories about covering Katrina's aftermath.
KATRINA TEACH-IN-GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS COLLEGE
Audio recordings from a teach-in on September 16, 2005 offer insight
into religious, communication, historical, geographic and other
aspects of the coverage in addition to some valuable related links.
FLORIDA ALLIGATOR: JOURNALISM PANEL DISCUSSES ETHICS OF KATRINA
A discussion of ethical and journalistic considerations in the
coverage of Katrina by four Florida journalists.
@MISSOURI STATE: REPORTING ON DISASTERS: HOW WELL DID THE MEDIA
COVER KATRINA AND RITA
Features the text and a complete podcast of a panel of faculty
members and Springfield News-Leader Executive Editor Don Wyatt.
Includes such items as What's Getting Covered, Reporting on the
Reporting, and Sites Worth Seeing. A wonderful site with examples
of what it calls extraordinary coverage as well as many examples
NEWSHOUR: LOOKING AT MEDIA COVERAGE OF HURRICANE KATRINA
Tim Russert, Ted Koppel, Paula Zahn, and others participate in
a discussion. The site includes text, photographs, and streaming
CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF FIRST AMENDMENT ISSUES: MAINTAINING JOURNALISTIC
STANDARDS AMID CHAOS: THE KATRINA COVERAGE
Features a recording of a presentation by Anderson Cooper of CNN,
Don Wycliff of the Chicago Tribune, Mason Granger, WSDU-TV
and moderated by Nicholas Lemann, Dean, Columbia Journalism School.
NEWS, RACE AND KATRINA
A round-up of journalists and discussions on NBC's "Meet the
Press", CNN's "Reliable Sources, ABC's "This Week
and "Fox News Sunday" as well as many other online and
printed media commentary compiled by Richard Prince in his online
column "Journal-isms" from the Robert C. Maynard Institute
for Journalism Education.
Clausssen Appointed Editor of Major Scholarly Journal
Dane S. Claussen of Point Park University has been appointed
to become the next editor of Journalism & Mass Communication
Educator, a quarterly scholarly journal published by the
Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.
Claussen, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Programs,
Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, and also Faculty
Development Coordinator, at Point Park University, began phasing
into the editorship in January and will take full responsibility
for the journal in the spring. The first issue officially under
his editorship will be the summer 2006 issue.
Claussen has been a member of Journalism & Mass Communication
Educator's Editorial Board since July 2003 and has been a
manuscripts reviewer for it since October 2000. He also has written
book reviews for the journal.
the editorship, Claussen succeeds Dr. Jeremy Cohen, Assistant
Vice President and Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education
at Pennsylvania State University-University Park, State College,
Pa., who has held the position since 2001. (Other recent editors
have included Dr. James A. Crook, University of Tennessee-Knoxville,
1988-2001; and Dr. Thomas A. Bowers, University of North Carolina-Chapel
Hill, 1983-1988). The journal was founded in 1958.
Claussen is Head/Program Chair for 2005-6 of the AEJMC's History
Division; Research Chair for 2005-6 of AEJMC's Magazine Division;
Vice-Chair of the Professional Freedom & Responsibility Committee
for 2005-6 of AEJMC's Media Management & Economics Division;
a member of AEJMC's Task Force on Diversity; and a member of
the AEJMC's Religion and Media Interest Group.
Claussen holds a B.S. (journalism) from the University of Oregon
(1984); M.B.A. (corporate finance and labor relations) from The
University of Chicago (1986); M.S. (mass communications) from
Kansas State University (1996); and a Ph.D. (mass communication)
from The University of Georgia (1999).
Religion and Culture Dissertation Fellowships
The School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University
of Colorado, Boulder welcomes applications for the 2006-07 academic
year for a dissertation fellowship program in media, religion,
and culture. Three one-year fellowship grants of $12,000 each will
be awarded to doctoral students/candidates at the dissertation
proposal-writing stage, or who are in the first year after the
dissertation proposal is approved. Deadline is March 31, 2006.
Applications must be mailed to:
Media, Religion and Culture Fellowship Coordinator
School of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of Colorado
1511 University Ave., 478 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309-0478
More information can be found at: http://www.colorado.edu/journalism/mcm/mrc/mrc-fellowships.htm
DIRECTOR: CENTER FOR RELIGION, THE PROFESSIONS, AND THE PUBLIC
The Center for Religion, the Professions, and the Public and the
School of Journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia seek
a journalism faculty member who will direct an interdisciplinary
center involving faculty affiliates from diverse disciplines. The
Center is funded in part by a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts.
For a complete description of the position and application instructions,
please visit http://rpp.missouri.edu/about/director-search.html.
Next Newsletter: Spring 2006
Deadline for Spring issue: March 17, 2006
AEJMC Deadline for Paper Submission - April 1, 2006
RMIG Submissions must be Hard Copy
RMIG Web link: ../
Other helpful links: http://www.religionwriters.com/