The role and function of journalism for religious organizations

Authored by: Tim Hutchings

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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Studies of religion and the news have tended to focus on news content and the role of journalists in producing it. This chapter draws attention instead to the agency of the many religious individuals and groups who try to influence their own media representation. Common tactics include issuing press releases, building personal networks with media professionals, carefully studying the needs, expectations and working patterns of journalists and raising objections to perceived media bias and misconduct. These projects are guided by perceptions of the role and function of the journalist in society, and we propose a typology of six visions of journalism: three classic ideas from journalism studies (the watchdog, the lapdog and the guard dog) and three new ones of particular relevance to religion news (the puppy dog, the working dog and the hunting dog). To explore these six visions in practice, we introduce three case studies of religious communicators based in the UK: a Christian press officer, a Christian bishop active on social media and a Muslim media monitor. This chapter seeks to encourage new attention to the work done by religious organizations and entrepreneurs to find space in the news for positive representation of their messages and themselves.

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