AND MEDIA INTEREST GROUP NEWS
MATTERS Winter 2004
The Newsletter of the Religion and Media Interest Group
of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication
1. Editor's Introduction
2. Getting it Right? Religion, Media and Politics
3. Call for papers: AEJMC Convention, Aug. 10-13,
4. Call for contributors: Encyclopedia of Religion,
Communication, and Media
5. Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships in Media,
Religion, and Culture at the University of Colorado's School of
Journalism and Mass Communication
RMIG Newsletter editor
student of mine caught me in the hall after class. "What
do you think of this?" she asked, handing me the current
issue of Seventeen.
don't read a lot of magazines targeting teen girls,"
I said. "So I probably don't have much of an opinion on it."
turned to page 102 where, interspersed within the "Fashion,"
"Beauty" and "Stars" sections, was Seventeen's
"Faith" section. Apparently, the teen magazine has started
printing more articles about how young girls and women approach
spirituality and religiosity. The issue I saw included a story
about a Jewish college cheerleader cut from the squad allegedly
for religious differences. It also featured sidebars about Christian,
Muslim and Jewish charities that teens can get involved in.
was slightly amused by the section, especially since it was placed
a few pages after Seventeen's dating survey results (where
we discover that 85% of its readers French kiss, by the way).
My student, though, didn't share my amusement.
can't put religion on the same level as make-up and boy bands
and chewing gum," she said with a grimace on her face.
"Young readers will start to think of religion as the new
hip accessory of the in-crowd, and not realize religious faith
is not a fashion statement. Putting religion in Seventeen won't
make it a better magazine. But injecting Seventeen into
religion will weaken the significance of religious faith."
lead to a nice discussion about how religiosity influences, and
is influenced by, mainstream culture. We talked about churches
that incorporate pop music in its sermons, and pop stars who
incorporate religiosity in their public personas. We talked about
how people are buying more religious books, but they are getting
them at Barnes & Noble and Wal-Mart instead of the local
Christian bookstores. And, of course, we talked about the fashion
statements of Christian t-shirts. (Surely, Seventeen will
cover this topic eventually, if it hasn't already.)
realized that by talking about religion in mainstream media (and
conversely, mainstream media in religion) my student began to
better understand the influence and implications of media culture
within western society. I left the conversation thinking that
even though a "Faith" section may not make Seventeen a
better magazine, it made our discussion of media culture stronger
than it would have been otherwise.
newsletter features more examples and opportunities to incorporate
religion into media studies in an effort to make media scholarship
and instruction stronger. RMIG head Michael Longinow encourages
us not to be complacent in our instruction on covering religious
issues, particularly in such a volatile election year. The call
for papers for next year's AEJMC conference is also below, as
is a call for contributors for the upcoming Encyclopedia of
Religion, Communication, and Media.
hope the RMIG newsletter will prove to be edifying in our exploration
of the marriage of religion and media. I invite you to write
share your announcements and musings with us through the newsletter
or the listserv. I look forward to hearing from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
it Right? Religion, Media and Politics
By Michael A. Longinow
October issue of Christianity Today shows George Bush
and John Kerry on horses charging each other in jousting positions.
It's a cover that, without much effort, could be replicated in
roughly the same month every four years going back generations.
The images are familiar. Horses. Horse-races. Battles. And, since
about the Eisenhower era, faith.
faith of presidents is something that matters to voters. That's
not new. What is new is how the American news media has seemed
to misfire on coverage of the faith that each candidate brings
to the political table. We've heard about that eloquently from
Judith Buddenbaum, Mark Silk, and Stewart Hoover.
comes up again this year. Nobody really seems to know the real
story about the faith of our president or the senator from Massachusetts.
Ron Susskind, in New York Times magazine, in October,
said it didn't matter. It's really about political perception
anyway. George W. Bush's reputation for Christian extremism will,
if he is re-elected, spark a revolution within the GOP within
hours of the close of the polls, Susskind predicts. And of course,
religion among Democrats - something only tangentially explored
in this election season - will be as prominent a part as ever
in the search for a winning Democratic candidate in 2008. But
isn't it more complicated than that? If we don't think so, I'd
suggest, we're missing the point.
should admit that this time around the confusion over religious
coverage of presidential politics lacks substance at a deeper
level. We live in an America where Islam, Judaism and the offshoots
of these faiths have become a noticeable part of our socio-religious
landscape. The perception that Arab nations have of the United
States and its allies in the Iraqi conflict stems powerfully
from their religious world view. But it also has an effect on
the perception this country has globally and affects how well
American journalists will be able to cover stories in decades
to come. It affects us and our classrooms. The question is how
well we're preparing our students to cover the growing role that
Islam, Judaism - and even the changing definitions of Christianity
- play in world decision-making and decision-making in the U.S.
one standpoint, it's a no-brainer. Just teach basic reporting
better, right? Ask more questions. Get more background. Use the
clip file (or Lexis-Nexis) with better key words. Don't fall
into the sinister Arab stereotypes seen on TV dramas and in films
like "The Siege." Be more effective in welcoming students
into journalism and communications study who are unashamedly
religious. (The University of Illinois' College of Communications
recently highlighted in its alumni magazine a student journalist
on-camera in her TV project wearing a Muslim head covering.)
in another sense, maybe we should be doing more with helping
our students integrate their faith with their practice of good
journalism. David Aikman, a former senior writer for Time,
has contributed to the understanding of George W. Bush's faith
with a book that explores the president's religious background.
It's exploration that emanates from clear-eyed peering through
Washington flak-fog, but it also asks the kinds of questions
that only a religious person could find.
Journalism Institute, covered recently in CJR, is a seminar-style
training ground for journalists with the underlying mission of
helping student blend their faith with good reporting. Founder
Bob Case took heat in Christianity Today for his motives
in creating the institute. The CJR piece raises questions
of its own. What neither piece point up is the 800 lb. gorilla
hiding behind the creation of World Journalism Institute (and
the Summer Institute of Journalism under auspices of the Council
for Christian Colleges and Universities, and the media-internship
portion of the Focus on the Family Institute.)
incoming generations of students out of North American high schools
(public, private and home-schools) are young people who want
to believe. They want to be great journalists - maybe - but they
want to know how they can take a vibrant faith into their Pulitzer
Prize-winning reporting projects. Those of us teaching at AEJMC-accredited
or AEJMC-affiliated programs should take the hint. We need to
find ways of helping students get better answers about faith
in public life. They'll vote with their feet if we don't.
for Papers - AEJMC Convention, August 10-13, 2005
Religion and Media Interest Group of the Association for Education
in Journalism and Mass Communication invites submission of research
on any topic related to religion and media. RMIG is interested
in papers using any recognized research method and any recognized
citation style. Please note that RMIG is interested in research
presentations, rather than essays or commentary. Possible areas
of focus for the research include but are not limited to studies
of religious group members and uses of secular media, exploration
of media coverage of religious issues and groups, studies of
the audiences for religious news, media strategies of religious
organizations, religious advertising, religious and spiritual
content in popular culture, and so on. The competition is open
to both faculty and students. Papers will be considered for presentation
for research panels and a research poster session.
follow the guidelines for the AEJMC Uniform Call for Papers (available
on the AEJMC website, www.aejmc.org).
Please note the maximum length of 25 pages, excluding endnotes
and tables. Presentation: The best papers will be presented at
the AEJMC 2005 convention; thus, an author must be there. The
convention will take place August 10-13, 2005 in San Antonio,
Papers: The RMIG Division is also sponsoring an "Award
Winning Paper" competition for top faculty and student
papers at this year¹s convention. The "Top"
paper in each category will be selected from among the refereed
papers submitted to the RMIG competition. The top paper winners
will receive $100 and a certificate. In the case of multi-authored
papers, all authors must be students to qualify for the Top Student
submissions must be sent Priority or First Class and must be
postmarked by April 1, 2005, and must be received by April 6,
2005, for consideration. All submissions should be sent to:
Dr. Guy Golan
RMIG Research Chair
211 Journalism Building
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803-7202
for Contributors: Encyclopedia of Religion, Communication,
Publishing Group is seeking scholars and other experts to contribute
to the Encyclopedia of Religion, Communication, and Media to
be published by Routledge in Summer 2005.
Encyclopedia of Religion, Communication, and Media is the
eighth volume in the Berkshire/Routledge Religion &
Society series. We expect the Encyclopedia of Religion, Communication,
and Media to become the definitive reference source on all forms
of religious communication, with particular attention to mass media,
writing, and verbal messages.
Religion, Communication, and Media volume is edited by Daniel
Stout (University of South Carolina), assisted by an editorial
board of Associate Editor Judith M. Buddenbaum (Colorado State
University), and Consulting Editors Clifford Christians (University
of Illinois), Stewart Hoover (University of Colorado), Jolyon
Mitchell (University of Edinburgh), John Durham Peters (University
of Iowa), Joseph Straubhaar (University of Texas), and Hillary
Warren (Otterbein College).
Religion & Society series explores and explains the major
forms of religion-society interaction over time and across cultures,
with an emphasis on the modern world. Each volume in the series
addresses a different general topic through articles, primary
source sidebars, and photos. The six published volumes-covering
Millennialism and Millennial Movements, African and African-American
Religions, Fundamentalism, Religious Freedom, Religion & War,
and Religious Rites, Rituals,
& Festivals-have earned excellent reviews for their scholarly
quality and clear, readable articles. The seventh through ninth
volumes are now being prepared.
contributors will receive a free copy of the Berkshire Encyclopedia
of Religion, Communication, and Media (retail price about
$140). Contributors who write more than one article may select
copies of other volumes in the series. All articles will be peer-reviewed
by the board of editors, and authors will be fully acknowledged
in the published work.
currently have articles available in the categories of: Alternative
Religious Movements, Forms of Communication and Media, Historical
Periods, Religious Traditions, and Key Concepts.
you are interested in becoming a contributor to this vital and
exciting project, send a message indicating which category you
are interested in writing, along with a paragraph about your
position, experience in religion and communication, and major
relevant publications (we do not need a CV at this stage), to
our project editor, Jess LaPointe, at email@example.com.
Dissertation Fellowships in Media, Religion, and Culture
at the University of Colorado's School of Journalism and
University of Colorado's School of Journalism and Mass Communication
is pleased to announce a Doctoral
Dissertation Fellowship in Media, Religion, and Culture.
Grants are available in the amount of $12,000 for a one-year
fellowship. deadline for applications for the next academic year
is April 2005. Send your application materials to:
Webber, Fellowship Coordinator
School of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309-0478