Religion in the Media- A Fair Chance Online with the BBC and NYT

“Journalism is merely history’s first draft.” -GEOFFREY C. WARD

As history is taking place for religious and anti-religious groups, are they getting written into this “first draft?” Some argue that religious organizations in England are not getting enough media coverage. Individuals and businesses depend on and live through the news; it is a necessity in our thriving, global society.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is the largest broadcaster in the world yet has still received complaints and suggestions to improving their faith coverage. In journalism, it is the journalist/news company’s responsibility to provide the public with impartial, credible information and updates. This means giving all groups a voice or chance to talk and share about what’s going on in their community or group.

The BBC’s religious coverage was brought into question in 2010 by Roger Bolton who works for the BBC, presenting the BBC Radio 4’s Feedback program. He said a religious perspective was commonly absent in their stories. In response, a BBC spokeswoman stated, “BBC News and Current Affairs has a dedicated religion correspondent, and topical religious and ethical affairs stories are featured across all our BBC networks.” Having a correspondent on a specific issue means a member of staff is assigned to strictly that area, also known as having a “beat” for all their stories.

In the United States, the New York Times (NYT) could be considered the equivalent to the BBC for the United Kingdom, or at least a strong comparative. The New York Times not only has a religious correspondent but also a Times Topic for Religion & Belief. If you, for some crazy reason, are not familiar with the New York Times online (the most popular visited online newspaper website in America), Times Topics are explained by the NYT as:

“Each topic page collects all the news, reference and archival information, photos, graphics, audio and video files published on topics ranging from A M Castle & Company to Zyuganov, Gennadi A. This treasure trove is available without charge on articles going back to 1981.”

Times Topics mean an area of news interest is a pretty big deal and has a lot of collections and articles all conveniently compiled. Equivalent on the BBC’s online website is BBC Religion. In the article from 2010, the Church of England council was worried about a cut in mainstream broadcasters’ religious programming. These cuts could apply to any mediums of broadcasting, ranging from news editorial print, to radio or television broadcasting. Regardless of the cuts, online the BBC has really taken multimedia to the next level.

While researching for this post and looking around, I noticed the BBC’s multimedia to be much more impressive and involved. Here you’ll find calendars, podcasts, music stations, radio programs, service segments, and most importantly, videos in the Learning Zone to further advance your knowledge on religious studies. On the BBC’s Religion page you’ll also see an announcement for RE: THINK 2012, a Religion and Ethics Festival coming to the UK in the Fall. This is important because some of the concerns expressed in the past were about religious festivals for various religions and getting coverage.

I might be missing a link, in the middle somewhere between the article about complaints on inefficient religious coverage and the web pages I have explored today, but it seems as though the world’s largest broadcasting company has done their part, at least with their online presence with faith coverage (assessing their nearly-dozen television and digital television stations is a different story).

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