Once again the news media have shown themselves incapable of exercising wise editorial judgment by giving headlines to the religious nutcase predicting the end of the world this past weekend. End of the world predictions supply one of the main ingredients required of newsworthy stories today: they stir up fear. I could see the story being used as a source
of humor, but for the most part that was not the case. The other big religious story in the last six months was about Pastor Terry Jones burning Korans and was even more fear-mongering. Neither story was newsworthy and probably would not have made the national news 40 years ago. The fact that these two stories have been the biggest religious
headlines of recent months is also significant. Has there been nothing else of significance done by the religious community?
There is such a marked contrast to the local news, for example our local paper, The Sun Chronicle, which I think is typical of its kind. The local paper broadcasts the achievements of the area Council of Churches, as well as interfaith efforts, and the 100th anniversary of the founding of the local synagogue, to name just a few in recent weeks. There is clearly a disconnect between local and national news. The local papers believe positive stories about religion sell newspapers, because many of their readers are involved in churches, synagogues, mosques, etc… The national news seems to think such stories would be economic suicide. Why they must feed our national addiction to fear and despair is beyond me. Why not a good dose of hope? Oprah does well enough on hope.
My advice about getting national and world “news” is to be wise in your choice of source. PBS and BBC maintain some semblance of independence, and occasionally have programming open to the influences of religion. A particularly good one is Religion and
Ethics Newsweekly on PBS. Other sources might include journals such as The
Christian Century, Sojourners, and The Christian Science Monitor. And, then, there is always The Today Show with Jon Stewart …