Asian mass media

A pillar of religious authority?

Authored by: Yoel Cohen

The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Journalism

Print publication date:  October  2020
Online publication date:  October  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138304963
eBook ISBN: 9780203731420
Adobe ISBN:


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In an attempt to deepen our understanding of the complexity of the relationship between journalism and religion in Asia, the chapter discusses the extent to which the media in Asia legitimize or delegitimize religious leaders. When compared to other non-religious sources of authority such as governmental officials and politicians in the Asian countries, the level of trust in religious leaders is significantly higher. In terms of whether or not the journalist has a basic religious belief, in all Asian countries journalists report a religion. This contrasts with some other world regions, including Western Europe. The chapter compares three contrasting cases: Islamic countries, where religious authority is given most importance; India as one of the countries where it is given least importance and Israel, which provides an example of a country with a clear Jewish character, yet one that aspires to be mostly secular in orientation. The widely held view that religious authority has been challenged and weakened by developments in journalism and by technological developments in mass communication is uncertain in the Asian case. Indeed, in many Asian countries – notably Islamic ones – the media, rather than challenging religious authority, have become a pillar strengthening it. In contrast to their Western colleagues, Asian journalists seem more sensitive to religious thinking and themselves are more often believers – providing a channel for religious thinking through popular mass media.

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