Religion news on television: Questioning the gatekeepers



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In recent years, many media critics have argued that the mass media have virtually ignored the religion beat. Several studies have examined how newspapers report religion news, but very little is known about how local television newscasts cover stories about religious persons, events, issues or activities. A questionnaire was mailed to 563 news directors at networkaffiliated stations in 209 ADI (Area of Dominant Influence) markets in the continental U.S. to determine how religion is being covered and what news managers' attitudes are toward religion news. One hundred ninety-six respondents (35%) returned usable questionnaires. Broadcast journalists' selfreports of religion news coverage indicated that religion news was underreported, but heavily localized and human interest-oriented. Responses to attitude statements did not reveal any bias against religion or religious persons. However, news managers did not appear to believe that information involving religious issues was "newsworthy" under standard gatekeeping criteria.



Television broadcasting -- Religious aspects, Television broadcasting of news