John Dart, author of Deities and Deadlines, covered religion for three decades for the Los Angeles Times.
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From the Archives: January-February 2001
PEOPLE OF faith want to see the media recognize via news coverage that religious expression is a significant American trait. “They want to see religion mainstreamed in the newspaper,” said Stewart Hoover, a University of Colorado expert on religion in the news. When it comes to churches, however, the feelings are mixed, according to a pivotal 1989 study by Hoover. Like other institutions, church bodies want to maintain control over descriptions of their symbols and stories, yet many also desire the validation and credibility conferred by appearing in the news. But going public with their news and views runs the risk of misinterpretation by journalists. ...
The God Beat
In newsrooms around the country, religion is no longer a dead-end assignment—but the media still have a long way to go before they get it right.