FRIDAY | January 4, 2019 | 7:30-9:30 pm
Reporting stories about faith can be tricky business. Journalists who shy away from scrutinizing faith organizations are often labelled as apologists while those who do scrutinize can be lumped into the “godless propaganda” category. What is the best approach? What do believers and non-believers alike want from faith coverage?
Home of Ed and Kristen Iversen
3582 Oak Rim Way Salt Lake City, UT 84109
If there is no parking to be found near the home you can also park in the “park & ride” lot on the NW corner of 3900 South and Wasatch Blvd. Oak Rim Way is just east of the intersection on the north side.
You’re invited to bring some finger food to share
Total objectivity is a myth, especially when writing about religion. We all have our own experiences, opinions and biases that we bring to the table. Journalists included. Because of this, many news consumers in Utah like to play a game I’ll call: Which reporters are Mormon? That question is followed by…Which of them are active attenders? Who has an axe to grind? Who is doing the “brethren’s” (top Mormon leaders) work for them?
Outside of Utah many newsrooms face an opposite problem. Journalists are often too far removed from the faiths they’re reporting on. They get vocabulary and historical details wrong at times and can contextualize stories in ways that frustrate believers. This is particularly common with national newsrooms based in major media markets (ex. The New York Times’ Thomas Monson obit).
So, what makes a good religion story? What makes a good religion reporter? And what should the result of good religion reporting be?
As will all our gatherings, there is no pressure to share in the large group or when we break into small groups. But what makes Faith Again and Think Again work is not just who presents but who is present, prepared, and willing to share. For guidance in having productive conversations please read the intentions page.
Lee Hale has been reporting on religion for KUER (NPR Utah) since 2016. He was raised in Southern California and educated at BYU. After a year of teaching 9th grade in Salt Lake City, Lee switched careers to journalism when he was hired as a reporting fellow at NPR national headquarters in Washington, D.C. He returned to Salt Lake City in large part to learn how to report on religion and cover The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Next year he will be launching a national religion podcast through KUER and the public radio network PRX.
STUFF TO STUDY:
Jad Abumrad of Radiolab reports a short series on conversion therapy in America. In this episode he mixes a gay Christian’s personal story with the book of Job.
Vox’s podcast “Today, Explained” tackles the ongoing revelations about abuse in the Catholic church. The interview with a practicing Catholic priest near the end is particularly fascinating.
Additional resources suggested by Jay:
Religion in the Media: How has it Changed, Where is it Going, Why does it Matter?