Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Sadness. . .

It was announced on GetReligion.Org that this site will close on February 2, 2024.  Every thinking person who struggles with the way religion is reported upon will join me in sadness over this decision.  I want to personally extend my appreciation to Terry Mattingly and his friends who kept this going for the last two decades and for his continued presence on Issues, Etc.  Until it closes, you can read on its new stories here and the archive will remain up for the unforeseen future.

All of this reflects an amazing transformation in journalism.  First, of course, is the fact that the difference between facts and commentary have been blurred to the point where most thinking Americans join me in meeting the news with some apprehension and skepticism.  Second is the sad reality that the news media has become an impossible term including not only traditional news outlets but all sorts of things that, in the past, would never have been called news media.  Third is that the media has been reduced to sound bytes and tweets which cannot possibly unwrap the complexities of what is really happening and thus leaving the consumer of news with a paucity of information and a plethora of opinion.  Last is that religion has become the unreported or under-reported component of the news and the majority of those reporting have less than a peripheral understanding of the religions affecting or in the news.

I grew up in an era in which every small town newspaper had religious reporting and every larger newspaper had regular paid religion reporters who had both an interest in and an expertise in the area.  I grew up when TIME magazine had a religion column and religious figures and stories routinely were given the cover of that weekly news magazine.  I grew up as a consumer of religious news in which I both expected and anticipated elaborate reporting on the religious backgrounds and interests in the major stories of the day.  No, it was not perfect.  It was not even always solid.  But there was an effort to unpack the stories of the day and of the week with full attention to the religious components of these events and the figures who played a large role in them.  Sadly, today we find ourselves suffering from a glut of superficial reporting especially on religion and the religious factors of the stories that make the headlines.  It has left us ignorant and uninterested.  I wish it were simply that we did not have good, solid religion reporting but the damage done is worse.  We no longer care about religion at least in the sense that we once did.  That is a tragedy.

Last Christmas I came home late after the final service of the night and flipped through channels to see if there was any reporting on what the Pope had said or any services being played or replayed.  There were none.  Imagine that.  The world has a couple of billion of self-identified Christians in it and the media was more interested in showing Christmas movies like Die Hard rather than report on one of the most significant days of the year -- not just for Christians only!  Thank you, Terry Mattingly and those who with him at GetReligion -- those who worked to report on and hold the media's feet to the fire about their own reporting on religious stories.  I wish you would never close up shop.  Speaking for myself, I will miss you.  God bless you.

1 comment:

Carl Vehse said...

The ABCAPCBSCNNMSNBCNPRNYTPBSWP "news media" transformed into the fifth-column, leftist enemedia long ago. As Norman Lieberman said a couple of decades ago, "The daily newspapers were the stuff in which I used to wrap my garbage. Now it is my garbage."