Wanted: Insiders | Sojourners

Wanted: Insiders

A Washington Post ombudsman once tried to explain the stereotyping of evangelicals by a Post reporter who described them as "poor, uneducated, and easy to command." The ombudsman wrote that the problem for most journalists is that "we don't know many of these people."

Imagine how well such an excuse would go down with, say, African Americans. How long would a newsroom remain all, or mostly, white if an excuse like this were offered to explain racial insensitivity? Yet, most newsrooms are absent of any serious, practicing Christians who could not only report moral and spiritual dimensions with insight and sensitivity but also get the language right so as not to offend readers and viewers.

Christians can help turn this situation around by not treating the media as a monolith. They can meet with editors and news directors, offering themselves as resources whenever stories with a religious dimension come up. They can help editors see a religious angle to a story that might not immediately suggest itself. Positive attitudes and letters to editors praising good coverage and suggesting how poor or no coverage can be improved will enhance the likelihood that editors and other media decision-makers will be more open to story ideas and religious resources in the future.

Nothing will work as well as believers deciding that journalism is a worthy calling in which Christians can serve with dignity and integrity. There is nothing like having an "insider" in the newsroom to improve the quality of religious coverage and sensitivity.

Cal Thomas' weekly column is syndicated in 520 newspapers by Tribune Media Services.

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Sojourners Magazine January-February 2001
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