The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the American News Media

The Knight Chair in Media and Religion at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is pleased to announce the publication of the Oxford Handbook of Religion and the American News Media, edited by Diane Winston, in August 2012.

Once relegated to the private sphere, or confined to its own section of the newspaper, religion is now a major part of daily news coverage. Every journalist needs a basic knowledge of religion to cover everything from presidential elections to the war in Iraq to the ethical issues raised by latest developments in medical research.

The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the American News Media will be the go-to volume for both secular and religious journalists and journalism educators, scholars in media studies, journalism studies, religious studies and American studies. Comprised of six sections, the first examines how the history of the mass media and the role religion played in its grown. The second looks at how the major media formats — print, broadcast, and online — deal with religion. The next two  examine how journalists cover major religious traditions and particular issues that have religion angles. The fifth examines the religious press, from the Christian Broadcasting Network to The Forward. The final section looks at how the American press covers the rest of the world.

Applying the insights of history, sociology, and cultural studies, several able and eminent scholars have joined to produce The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the American News Media, a wide-ranging exploration of how religion interacts with the news.

The handbook is available for orders here

Do You Have Faith in the Media?

by Diane Winston and John Green

A visiting Martian might be forgiven for thinking that Americans care more about the religion of prospective presidential candidates than they do about the economy, the environment, health care, or even space travel. And, according to a recent poll, a growing number of Americans would likely agree. Last week a Pew Research Center survey reported that almost two-fifths of the public says the candidates talk too much about their faith.

Are the candidates at fault for this surfeit of religiosity, or is the problem with the news media, which seems eager to tout Santorum’s religious “war on women,” Romney’s “un-Christian” Christianity, Gingrich’s “born-again” Catholicism, and Obama’s alleged Muslim heritage?

A new survey of news consumers and reporters reveals a significant gap between the two groups on what’s important and how it’s covered. Two-thirds of the public says the news media sensationalizes religion, a view shared by a little less than one-third of reporters. Significantly, almost 70 percent of the public prefers coverage on religious experience and spirituality, while reporters’ focus is on religion and politics. (Continue…)

Knight Luce Fellowship for Reporting on Global Religion

The Knight Luce Fellowship program offers stipends for journalists to travel throughout the world to report and write stories that contextualize these developments for an American audience.

These projects demonstrate the enduring power of religion and spirituality to motivate radical change, reaffirm cultural traditions and fundamentally affect the day-to-day lives of people worldwide. For more information about the program as well as profiles of 2011 Fellows and their projects, visit the Knight Luce site here.

Tibet’s Sacrifice: Exiled Lives

“Tibet’s Sacrifice: Exiled Lives” by Dan Carino is a multimedia piece of comics journalism examining Tibetan activists living in India and their willingness to die for their cause through self-immolation.

Self-immolation among Tibetan activists has been on the rise over the last few years with TIME Magazine naming it the #1 underreported story of 2011. In New Delhi, India, Carino interviewed activist Shibayan Raha, who was arrested in 2007 for attempting to self-immolate, and visited the refugee settlement Majnu Ka Tilla to see why so many Tibetans seem willing to die for their homeland.