The Pew Research Center conducted a phone survey among 1,500 adults, and results showed how the public views journalists’ religious stands. 19 percent of Americans feel like “reporters and the news media” are “friendly” to religion, while 38 percent of the respondents thought journalists were “neutral”; 35 percent said they were “unfriendly.” While the “unfriendly” statistic has remained consistent since 2003, friendliness towards religion has increased since 2009.
Nadra Kareem Nittle of the Maynard Institute says that the media is not covering evangelicals well enough by portraying them as white and conservative.
“Religion scholars and experts say it’s critical that the media quickly adjust coverage to include all evangelical Christians or risk giving an unfair advantage to candidates supported by the largely conservative, white evangelicals,” Nittle said.
When journalists are deeply invested in their political affiliation or ethnicity, the urge to show bias or dislike is difficult to contain. In this case, religion is an issue that is constantly surrounded by controversial discussion, especially when journalists discriminate against a particular belief. Pure journalistic integrity entails that a journalist should avoid any personal sentiment towards a religion or political party, and the main goal is to report the story. A journalist lives two lives: as an individual with own set of moral standards and as a reporter getting to the facts and details of a story. He or she must detach himself or herself from religious background or any other affiliation in order to function in an impartial newsroom.
“Not many headlines, it seems, are inspired by the Creator these days,” Jennifer Harper writes in The Washington Times.
While some observers notice a lack of religious expression in journalism, it is a necessary step that must be taken to report rather than opinionate. Although journalists have a religious belief, some would rather refrain from displaying it openly and avoid scrutiny. In addition, it is not good press when a publication causes controversy on itself when a journalist makes an outlandish statement related to religion. Even though Americans feel that journalists are more unfriendly than friendly, I notice more neutrality than a one-sided dominance. The only organizations that would tend to be “unfriendly” or “friendly” are the niche organizations to cater to a specific demographic. From my observations, cable networks and major publications would avoid religious expression in itself and tell the story.