A Mixed Blessing
Religion and Media Interest Group
A Mixed Blessing:
Representation of Religion in American Print Media
Sarah Forbes Orwig
Fellow, Institute for the Study of Economic Culture, Boston
Doctoral Candidate in Mass Communication & Sociology of Religion,
University Professors Interdisciplinary Studies Program
10 Lenox Street, Brookline MA 02146
[log in to unmask]
Gatekeeping and agenda-setting operate as distinct but associated
influences in the coverage of religious news and features. Examples of
these influences are cited following a portrayal of the climate of
religious news reporting. It is proposed that gatekeeping generally
operates at the level of the individual reporter (or editor), while
agenda-setting for religious news reporting originates from the top of the
organizational structure, reflecting the beliefs or interests of the news
organization and its key personnel.
A Mixed Blessing: Representation of Religion in American Print Media
Table of Contents
The Cultural Context of Religious Coverage 4
Recent Themes Regarding Coverage of Religion 6
The Function of Agenda-Setting and Its Effects on Religious Reporting 9
The Function of Gatekeeping and Its Effects on Religious Reporting 14
Gatekeeping and Agenda-Setting: An Example from the Past 20
Summary: Implications for Press Professionals 24
A Mixed Blessing: Representation of Religion in American Print Media
Is religious news reporting restricted to coverage by religion
specialists? If not, then how do journalists engage in such coverage,
especially when religion is so often misunderstood - yet woven into the
news articles, political analyses and general issues covered by the press
on a routine basis? If religious themes continue to have meaning in
American public life, are journalists able to report these themes in a fair
and engaging fashion?
This paper will identify some elements that help and hinder journalists
as they deal with religiously oriented topics. After a general description,
the functions of gatekeeping and agenda-setting will be presented as
distinct influences the coverage of religious themes. A specific example
will be analyzed for possible biases resulting from gatekeeping or
agenda-setting. This comparative discussion of gatekeeping and
agenda-setting can also be useful in helping mass communications students
distinguish between these two unique influences in the journalistic process.
A portrayal of the climate surrounding the reporting of religiously
oriented themes will introduce this topic, followed by a brief look at the
historical relationship of religion and the media. One focus will be the
distinction between public and private exercise of religion in this
country. The next step will be to identify particular influences - or
constraints - on religious news reporting and to classify these as
agenda-setting or gatekeeping functions. Definitions of these two functions
will assist in the categorization. Implications for reporting will then be
Religion and the News - Influences from the Past
Religion and the press have had a close but contentious relationship from
the start, beginning with Gutenberg's first major printing project, the
Bible. The availability of biblical texts to the laity influenced an
individual sense of religion and is thereby linked to the Reformation. Some
saw the printing press as an instrument of the Devil; some saw it as an
instrument of the Lord's hand. With regard to the relationship of the press
and religion in America, a similarly dichotomized view took hold over time:
some felt the press should be a mouthpiece for established religion; others
felt the press should be freed from religious controls. For many reasons,
the earliest newspapers in the New World were often Christian in their
orientation, largely reflecting the world view of the first settlers.
North America's Early Newspapers
David Paul Nord and Marvin Olasky are two scholars who show that the religious
voice was indeed the dominant one in early American publishing. Taking the
Boston Recorder as an example of a successful Christian newspaper that claimed
the number two spot in overall circulation among Boston papers, Olasky explains
that "Every news story was interpreted as part of what could be called 'the
great story,' the story of God's holiness, man's sinfulness and God's gracious
redemption of sinners."
Historian Nord looks into the earliest printed materials in New England and
finds, "Current events loomed large in the Puritan imagination. Belief in the
role of divine providence in the public life of New England clothed all
occurrences - from major political events to odd changes in the weather - with
meaning and importance. It is little wonder, then, that the reporting of current
events held such a central place in seventeenth-century New England
These examples imply that print media were brimming with religious
themes. Olasky, however, seems convinced that America's newspapers were
meant to purvey religious viewpoints. He holds the opinion that the quality
of journalism in America declined when newspapers lost their religious
anchors. Indeed, this decline began with the dawn of the Penny Press, when
newspaper competition and, especially, James Gordon Bennett's cynical
religious savvy, changed the relationship between the church and the press.
Concerning Bennett and his New York Herald, journalism professor Judith
Buddenbaum notes, "Historians generally agree that Bennett's religion news
coverage was one of his innovations and a lasting contribution to American
journalism. He was a chronicler and critic of religion during a period of great
change and excitement in religion and other areas of American society." She
continues, "[The Herald's] secular and even-handed analysis and critique of any
and all religion probably made Bennett's religion coverage seen truly radical.
It also must have been quite unsettling at the time." It may have been
extremely unsettling to readers, but they bought the newspapers nonetheless.
A More Recent Perspective
Writing in 1930, William Bernard Norton, a former religion editor for the
Chicago Tribune, reminds us that simplicity was never the case with regard to
coverage of religious issues. He also warned, "If a speaker lauds the church, he
is very apt to get less newspaper space than if he finds fault with it." In
this statement, Norton underscored a truism for American journalism (and
something the Christian newspapers of the 1800s refused to acknowledge): that
sensationalism and bad news tend to sell better than good news. This leads to a
serious question: is there a desire on the part of journalists to demerit
established religion? That is to say, when reporting religious themes, is bad
news good for newspapers? In recent years, reporters, editors and media critics
have been asking such questions. As the next section points out, a debate
continues regarding the prominence of religion in U.S. society and its
representation in the news.
The Cultural Context of Religious Coverage
America is considered one of the most religious of all the countries in the
world, yet as Americans, we tend to keep religion to ourselves. To introduce
it into the public sector is to risk embarrassment, misunderstanding or possibly
the offense of another individual. Worse, it could label us as extremist. So we
don't discuss it. As Stephen L. Carter notes in The Culture of Disbelief, "The
message of contemporary culture seems to be that it is perfectly all right to
believe that stuff - we have freedom of conscience, folks can believe what they
like - but you really ought to keep it to yourself, especially if your beliefs
are the sort that cause you to act in ways that are...well...a bit
Public versus Private: Implications for the Media
Journalists tend to be much more cautious in their representation of religion in
America. Looking to the guidelines written by William Norton in the 1930s,
perhaps there has always been a tendency to assume that it is polite and proper
to separate religion from the rest of life. Religion reporter Susan Willey
observes, "For many, religion is relegated to a private realm. When religion
enters the public sphere, many people in our society have a difficult time
discussing it." Then again, R. Laurence Moore, in his book Selling God,
claims, "Those who argue with alarm that the 'public square' is naked of
religion are surely wrong. Religion is everywhere." Moore feels religion has
infiltrated the marketplace and woven itself through the fabric of personal and
What's interesting is the multiplicity in the positions taken by people
regarding the privatization of faith. Researchers such as Nancy Ammerman are
doing a good job of describing, objectively, ways in which faith is not wholly
privatized in American life. Ammerman depicts a middle ground between two
contrasting views - those who think religion should be restricted to the private
realm, and those who think religion should be more active and observable in the
public realm. As Stewart Hoover states, "... religion that is not primarily
understood with reference to the institutions and the large cultural themes is
defined as private and inconsequential." No matter where journalists stand
with regard to the location - be it public or private - of religion in American
life, they still face a difficult task in presenting balanced or neutral
"Public Religion" Sets the Agenda
Mark Silk illustrates a way in which the public/private distinction
drives the choice of news coverage. Looking back at some key issues, he
What is clear ... is that the news media will give much more coverage to
establishment-clause issues than to free-exercise claims involving state
restrictions on religious practices. This is, quite simply, because there is
thought to be, and doubtless is, far more public interest in cases involving
'public religion.' Doing away with a traditional prayer at high school football
games is a big local story. Removing a cross in someone's front yard in
deference to a zoning ordinance is not.
It would seem, from Silk's statement, that establishment-clause claims
are treated as agenda-setters and are highly likely to find their way into
the news agenda. Free-exercise claims, on the other hand, are associated
with private expression of religion and are relatively unlikely to set the
news agenda. Furthermore, since these free-exercise topics are relinquished
to the private realm, a gatekeeping effect will theoretically prompt
journalists to dismiss them as valid news issues.
This example shows that a number of factors influence the representation
of religion in the news. Recently, the relationship between religion and
the media has come under increasing scrutiny by journalists and
academicians. What follows is a review of the comments and critiques
stemming from this revived interest in media and religion.
Recent Themes Regarding Coverage of Religion
A 1993 conference sponsored by Columbia Journalism Review was critical in
recognizing those challenges journalists face when reporting on religious news
kind. The conference discussion topics tended to converge on a particular
flash point of
religious coverage - the emergence and strength of America's so-called
Sociologist and conference participant James Davison Hunter referred to the
which he views as the tension that pits conservative Christians against the
Simple Conspiracy or Complex Blindspots?
Hunter asked his fellow conferees, "Has the press taken sides in the
contemporary culture war? The answer invariably depends on who is doing the
criticizing. A far greater problem, in my view, is superficiality - the failure,
or perhaps the inability, to explore the deeper issues and implications of the
various controversies of the culture war." Other journalists went on to
cite their own failure to "get the story" of religion in America. Since that
time, an increasing mass of criticisms have been aimed at the press and its
failure to grasp religious issues.
Something else of significance happened in 1993. The Freedom Forum First
Amendment Center of Vanderbilt University published Bridging the Gap: Religion
and the News Media, a study which included data collected from 1,000 clergy
and journalists. Authors John Dart and Jimmy Allen suggested that many American
news media are ill prepared to handle effective reporting of religious themes
that, the study notes, seem to be of great interest to media audiences.
Dart and Allen, and Stewart Hoover are among those finding data showing a
great appetite for religious news in the American media audience. It would seem
that there might be an opportunity to serve the public by publishing news
articles and features on this interest area. Yet when surveying the current
literature, it is difficult to find articles or books that offer anything more
than a negative appraisal of news media and their relationship to religious
issues. It seems that the Columbia conference set the tone for criticism
regarding journalistic treatment of religion in the news, and few voices can be
found praising successful treatment of religious topics. A conference on Media,
Culture & Religion at the University of Colorado, Boulder, in January 1996
continued this trend. Few presenters identified "best practices" or cited
successes in journalistic coverage of religion.
It remains a challenge to offer a fair, balanced look at any issue. Such a
balance is easy to lose. For example, in November 1993, Cable News Network
audiences with a barrage of stories accusing Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of
accuser, Steven Cook, 35, claimed the incident occurred when he was a
teenager. In a
relentless wave of broadcasts that year, CNN "tried" and "convicted" Bernardin
on the air
based on Cook's stories of victimization.
As can be expected in the aftermath of such egregious character
defamation, Sister Mary Ann Walsh, media relations officer for the U.S.
Catholic Conference, asked some critical questions:
Why did CNN seem to give more credibility to a man with an
acknowledged history of sexual promiscuity and drug abuse and who did
not allow himself to be scrutinized by the general media, than to an
international church leader whose whole reputation is one of service
to humanity and who has been available to the media for decades? Did
some bizarre interpretation of political correctness lead CNN to
presume that a church leader was a liar and a man with AIDS was
speaking the absolute truth?
CNN aired the program in November, a sweeps month. Did it abandon journalistic
standards in order to win the quarterly sweeps war, which determines ad rates?
Was this just one more way to manipulate the public? In search of ratings, did
CNN trade a journalistic virtue of scrappiness for a journalistic vice of
Walsh's comments and questions, targeted in this case at CNN alone,
indicate the pressures broadcasters face in building a strong viewership.
It is implied that the enticement of viewers can set the agenda for topic
selection and the style of coverage.Those same pressures - the competitive
sweeps period, ratings wars, etc. - do not exist at a comparable level for
newspapers. While other competitive powers do influence newspaper content,
it can still be said that newspapers are able to present fairer, more
complex themes that both inform and entertain their readers. It is
nonetheless important to ask why stories are reported the way they are.
What actions and assumptions, by reporters, editors and publishers, instill
a slant or an impartiality in their coverage of religious themes? In what
ways might the media fail to deliver objective reporting when religion is
The Function of the Failures
Such "failures" should be analyzed a bit more closely, because they
explain possible motives behind the inclusion or exclusion of religious
topics in the news. They influence the news that reaches publication. It is
proposed here that the functions of gatekeeping and agenda-setting represent
ways of identifying aspects that influence the selection, research and
publication of such
news articles and features. In fact, these failures serve as a "gate" through
news must pass on its way to publication - evidence of gatekeeping at work. In
certain notions held by press professionals with respect to religion in public
determine the prominence of certain themes, thus signifying the agenda-setting
It therefore seems possible to divide these failures, quirks and traits of the
categories of either agenda-setting or gatekeeping functions. Identifying
separate functions might help the press better understand its own coverage of
Some relevant themes, to be discussed in detail, include: a liberal,
secular slant found in the press; newsroom influences; deadline pressures;
a lack of training; and/or an unwillingness to tackle the complexities
involved in reporting a story about a religion or religious concepts.
The Function of Agenda-Setting and Its Effects on Religious Reporting
One of the fathers of modern media agenda-setting theory is Maxwell McCombs,
who, with Donald Shaw, formulated research to demonstrate the effects of
agenda-setting with regard to political and social issues in 1972. He credits
Walter Lippmann, however, with introducing the elementary concept of
agenda-setting. McCombs and Shaw have revisited their famous topic since, but
McCombs says much of their original theory holds, noting, "Considerable evidence
has accumulated that journalists play a key role in shaping our pictures of the
world as they go about their daily task of selecting and reporting the
news." Donald Shaw and Shannon Martin suggest "The press may,
unconsciously, provide a limited and rotating set of public issues, around which
the political and social system can engage in dialogue. In fact, from the point
of view of the social system, that may be the major 'function' of the news media
in our country. The press does not tell us what to believe, but does suggest
what we collectively may agree to discuss and perhaps act on." Everett
Rogers reiterates this understanding of agenda-setting, saying, "Agenda-setting
is the process through which the mass media communicate to the public the
relative importance of various issues and news topics." And Bernard Cohen
stated it most succinctly: that we must not presume that the media is always
"telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its
readers what to think about." In a more recent update of original
agenda-setting research, David Weaver identified possible consequences of this
agenda-setting function, suggesting a link, albeit weak, between knowledge of an
issue and action taken because of that knowledge.
One must have a clear understanding of what this agenda is. In a political
article, Debra Gersh Hernandez reports that "Washington Post columnist David
Broder ... said he has never believed much in journalism agenda-setting.
'Politicians set the agenda,' he commented. 'We ought to write about issues with
a good sense of modesty about our ability to get it on the agenda.'" But
here, Broder is undoubtedly talking about the public agenda, which indeed is set
by a number of factors. Here, agenda-setting will refer to the news agenda, an
area in which the media do, in fact, have colossal influence.
Jumping on the Bandwagon
As McCombs says, "The central research question has changed from who sets the
public agenda to who sets the news agenda." A striking example of setting
the news agenda coincided with Billy Graham's appearance on the evangelical
scene. Graham was apparently well-liked - or perhaps promoted - by at least two
very powerful publishers: William Randolph Hearst and Henry R. Luce. In a
chapter of American Evangelicals and the Mass Media, Mike Maus notes that
"Evangelicalism's 'big break' in media coverage probably came in 1949, when
newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst sent his editors and reporters a
cryptic memo: 'Puff Graham.'" The story follows that a hoard of Hearst
reporters descended upon Graham during a rally in Los Angeles, causing reporters
from other papers to follow suit. (Hearst's motivations were not evidence of his
own sudden conversion; it is said he viewed Graham as a strong voice against
Everett Rogers reiterates the way in which a few media forms set the
agenda for the many. He suggests that only a few media serve as opinion
leaders whereby their judgment of news value is picked up by other media.
Having tested this for himself he explains:
The present author also observed [how] ... one foreign affairs
news item, about which the Seattle newspaper staff had little
background knowledge, was placed on the front page in Seattle because
The New York Times had done so.
Perhaps the setting of media agendas by other media is something like the
opinion leadership process through which an innovation diffuses through
interpersonal networks in a system.
Propagating Political Biases
If the opinion leadership process is contributing the media agenda-setting,
there may be
influences within media organizations that impel this agenda. Stephen L.
the press is surprisingly capable of setting the news agenda when the
and actions of a favored candidate come to light. As he recounts a tale of the
Political candidates who make a show of their religiosity - or
who show the danger signs of taking their religious commitments
seriously - are treated with suspicion by mass media not quite sure
how to present this unfortunate malady to the public. (How often one
hears on the news a political report beginning, "Her opponent, a
Curiously, the mass media seem willing to overlook this difficulty - religiosity
- in candidates they like, even as the media emphasize the same factor in those
they dislike. ...in the 1992 campaign, the media often treated President Bush's
speeches to religious organizations as pandering - but when Bill Clinton spoke,
for example, to a black Baptist group, he was given credit for shrewdness.
(Notice how both assumptions speak an assumption of insincerity.)
Here, Carter seems to imply that the media will exploit religious themes
inconsistently, depending on the biases and perceptions of the people doing
Quirks, Curios and Public Fascinations
Stephen Bates uncovered a similar gem by observing ways the press sets
the agenda when curious religious themes are involved.
In some other spheres, though, the press favors experts whose theories support
religious belief. University of Virginia humanities professor Patricia C. Click
has found the press gave heavier attention to scientists who believed the Shroud
of Turin was the genuine burial cloth of Jesus than to scientists who were
skeptical. In coverage of expeditions searching for Noah's Ark, similarly, the
press has favored experts open to the historicity of the ark. Rarely do
reporters ferret out experts who say the ark won't be found because it never
existed - another example of religion's exalted position.
Exalted? Quite possibly not. Sensationalism has always driven news selection,
and historical proof of that famous shroud and Noah's Ark would certainly cause
a sensation. But Bates does bring up the interesting point that journalists seem
to favor those opinions that validate the existence of these two
religio-cultural artifacts. In doing so, the press sets an agenda for interest
in these items, and attaches an expectation for a discovery that will prove the
existence of the shroud and the ark. So, depending on the case, the press can
favor some religious themes and give negative treatment to others. Mark Silk
believes there is a reason for this, saying that "The news media ... are
animated by particular religious values that are embedded in American culture at
Stopping all coverage of religious topics would certainly not solve the
problems of confused signals and mixed messages about religion, nor would
it solve the problem of using religion to defame one candidate while
lauding another. Indeed, these examples show that the press needs to
improve its expertise in covering religious subjects. And the public
deserves such expertise.
The Cynical Side of Religion
The public must also be informed of fraudulent activities. Religious
organizations have frequently provided rich stories of fraud, exploitation and
embezzlement. The public must also be informed when religion is used to veil
other ambitions. As Wesley Pippert so understandably states, "Many in the mass
media are cynical about religion. Sometimes the so-called religious leaders, and
many of the political leaders who profess religion, often turn out to be,
frankly, frauds." At the very least, if a journalist smells a rat, he must
ask if his suspicions can be validated.
In "The Media Get Religion," Alicia Shepard stresses evidence of improved
coverage of religious issues, claiming, "Many editors have decided they can no
longer overlook the mounting evidence that Americans ... are a very religious
people." This topic area is changing, she insists, and it manifests itself
in new editorial practices. "Once largely relegated to second-string reporters
writing church news, religion is now covered by a growing number of
sophisticated, well-informed journalists who actually apply for the beat."
What might be at the foundation of such a change? Shepard feels that journalists
themselves are finding a need to comprehend the workings of faith within their
own lives. She suggests that " ... news executives are perceived to be taking a
greater interest in covering religion and spirituality for personal reasons.
Many are aging baby boomers concerned about their children's spiritual
development, their own mortality, or both." This sense of renewed interest
represents one manner in which an agenda is set.
The Function of Gatekeeping and Its Effects on Religious Reporting
The theme of gatekeeping has its roots in multiple disciplines. The first study
of gatekeeping specialized to the selection of news was produced by David
Manning White, who credits Kurt Lewin with applying the theme to mass
communication effects. "Dr. Lewin pointed out that the traveling of a news items
through certain communication channels was dependent on the fact that certain
areas within the channels functioned as 'gates.' Carrying that analogy further,
Lewin said that gate sections are governed either by impartial rules or by
'gatekeepers,' and in the latter case an individual or group is 'in power' for
making the decision between 'in' or 'out.'"
Several years after White's initial study of "Mr. Gates," Walter Gieber
continued the study of gatekeeping by newspaper editors in Wisconsin and
Indiana. Gieber's main theme is that "news is what newspapermen make it."
Since the early work by White and Gieber, gatekeeping has become a routine
research area with many applications. Richard M. Brown challenged White's
initial study by claiming to find weaknesses in his methodology, highlighting
the idea that a gatekeeping study should measure not what is rejected in the
news production process, but what is retained and used for publication. This
observation is important here, because gatekeeping effects will be discussed as
they are evident in published newspaper articles. In another significant study,
Guido Stempel compared gatekeeping among different newspapers and suggested
that a few select publications serve as opinion leaders for many.
In the midst of so much research, the basic definition of gatekeeping has
remained constant. As stated by Maxwell McCombs, "Journalists' professional
values, traditions and practices shape their judgments about the use of [news]
material. The strength of these internal professional influences is underscored
by the concept of gatekeeping." And in Mass Media Systems and Effects,
Davison, Boyland and Yu name some factors contributing to this gatekeeping
How do these gatekeepers make their decisions? First, they are individuals likes
the rest of us, with their own interests, ideas and preferences. In addition,
they will have their own subjective definitions of what is news or what will
appeal to the audiences they have in mind. Finally, they are exposed to
pressures from many of the same sources that influence management decisions, and
in addition are likely to be affected by the sources from whom they obtain
information, their fellow reporters and editors, other journalists, and the
commonly recognized standards of journalism.
In reviewing gatekeeping with respect to religious reporting, this paper
will not focus on time constraints, copy deadlines and mechanical
limitations that would impose a "gatekeeping" effect on any kind of story.
Instead, this paper will attempt to identify limitations that come about by
virtue of the
background of journalists, the setting in which they do their work and the
colleagues with whom and other groups with which they are associated. These
possible secular view of reality, newsroom/news culture influences, routines
information-gathering and staffing priorities.
Many assume that as a cultural group, journalists may not comprehend the world
in nonsecular terms. Richard John Neuhaus writes, "...those who define the
American reality - whether in high school textbooks or television documentaries
- were educated by a historians' guild that operates on the assumptions that
ours is 'a secular period and a pluralist society.'"
This would imply a secular understanding of the world. Newsweek religion writer
Kenneth Woodward, reflecting on his many years in the position, says, "What
matters ... are the operating assumptions about the significance of religion in
human affairs. Like the intellectual class in general (and academics in
particular), news magazine editors tend to regard religious ideas and identities
as essentially peripheral to public life." And sociologist James Davison
Hunter offers what he considers the central reason for journalists' failures in
covering religious topics: personal biases and elitism. He notes, "The problem,
as I see it, is not one of bias but of 'tone-deafness' born of class/culture
predispositions. What this means is that a good many journalists are simply
unfamiliar with the experiences and subtleties of meaning that people outside of
elite, urban culture impute to their lives."
Hunter seems to have suggested that reporters are simply out of touch with
mainstream American culture. Yet Mark Silk, now directing the Center for the
Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut,
sees things quite differently. The title of his book Unsecular Media reveals his
position. Silk offers evidence that the media are not secular, and shows how
journalists fulfill the audience's needs regarding coverage of religious issues.
From Unsecular Media: "... the public square, or at least the public bulletin
board, has not been denuded of religion. To the contrary. Not only is American
journalism reasonably attentive to matters of faith, but it also approaches
these in what can only be described as a pro-religious posture."
Many elements still compromise journalists' ability to offer fair, balanced
religious reporting - not the least of which is the culture of the newsroom
itself. Often, the stereotyped behaviors of hardened, hard-living journalists as
epitomized in The Front Page still exist in today's newsrooms. Reporters and
their editors have seen so much of the human condition that cynicism tends to
rule their judgment. As a result, faith comes off as sounding too simplistic,
too sappy or too whimsical to deserve serious consideration in a news story. CBS
News producer Brian Healy, a Catholic, notes a suspicion of and hostility toward
religion in newsrooms, adding that a journalist's personal biases set the agenda
for what is covered. While Healy is correct to point out the influence
journalists' preconceptions of religion may have on their reporting of
religiously infused topics, it is possible that he errs in calling that
influence an agenda-setter. Indeed, personal biases fall more correctly into the
realm of gatekeeping.
Conspiracy or Status Quo?
A conspiracy against religion is probably not at work here. It would be
difficult to prove the existence of a concerted effort to limit or skew
religiously oriented reporting. Having spent more than a decade overseeing
religious news for the New York Times, Kenneth Briggs doesn't believe the deck
is purposely stacked against coverage in this area. Instead, he claims,
"Religion is hardly singled out for special neglect ... Qualities of randomness
and dumb luck are in evidence across the newsroom." In addition to "dumb
luck" and randomness, it is easy to fall into the habit of depending on a few
good sources - people who provide quips, thoughtful quotes and who are
accessible. Sometimes, however, this is all a deadline will allow.
Another aspect of gatekeeping is the possibility of conveying issues in shades
of black and white, with no gray. This might be propagated in an "us-them"
attitude, or it might show up in the way a minimal conflict is highlighted to
make it more newsworthy. As sociologist Hunter explains, "...the complexity of
issues is largely ignored or, at best, given only cursory treatment. [There is]
a predisposition to dichotomize the subject. Newspapers, radio and television
have long been dramatic media. The narrative structure of most journalism
depends in large part upon the interplay of antagonists and protagonists, heroes
and villains, victims and victimizers, and so on."
Kenneth Woodward, too, feels that "Religion specialists argue that [some]
stories create a controversy that doesn't exist." Perhaps to explain this
phenomenon, Stewart Hoover writes that "... religion does not fit into accepted
journalistic categories of evidence. Religion makes claims that often are not
verifiable in the conventional sense, and this makes journalists, and
particularly editors, nervous."
The Makeup of the News Staff
The challenge lies in continuing to develop the depth of such coverage. One way
to do so might be to look at the parallel Laurence Barrett draws between
religious coverage and coverage of other politically charged topics. Barrett
observes, "Newspapers, magazine and networks frequently assign African-Americans
to cover civil rights stories and related issues. Women journalists of liberal
bent often write about feminist concerns. Even if we had more conservative
evangelicals in the ranks, I doubt if they would be employed the way blacks and
women have been. Conservative Christians are politically suspect."
Stephen Bates echoes this observation: "Given the news media's embrace of
'diversity' programs by which members of certain minority groups are hired as a
means of increasing newsroom sensitivity, it would seem that news organizations
would be interested in hiring evangelical journalists and perhaps journalists of
other faiths who are under-represented in the news business. But this has not
All media are increasingly representing religious belief and practice as central
to ordinary life. Evidence is seen in television programs, on National Public
Radio broadcasts (especially those featuring correspondent Lynn Neary) and a
wealth of publications. For instance, a current search of the Nexis database
using terms like "religion," belief" or "spirituality" will crowd the computer
screen; this was not the case ten years ago. Mark Silk would argue that
religious reporting reflects, not shapes, the role and the prominence of
religion in the United States. He summarizes that "Religion news that did not in
some sense defer to [religious] institutions and beliefs would not merely
enrage, it would confuse us." In other words, the public's expectations
about religion are met by the media covering them.
What's important to realize about Silk's statement is that he refers to
religion news in its entirety - the sum of all sources. There are still
plenty of specific failures that can spur tremendous criticism from
religious leaders or followers who feel they've been slighted. But it is
possible that the new attention journalists and scholars presently give to
the media/religion relationship works to inspire more thoughtful coverage.
No matter what the inspiration, the following story, something of a
"confessional" by New York Times reporter Michael Kaufman, represents a
awareness of the effects of religion reporting on the media audience and the
Gatekeeping and Agenda-Setting: An Example from the Past
A stunning example of the pitfalls that can be encountered when reporting
on religious themes was published in 1994. There is no evidence that this
example has been discussed in the critical literature on media and
religion, but it is important in that it truly reflects a reporter who
realizes the consequences of his work.
In 1994, one of the year's singular events of religious terrorism
occurred on Feb. 25 in Hebron, when Baruch Goldstein opened fire on Muslim
worshippers in the Cave of the Patriarchs, killing 29 and wounding more
than 100. As a follower of the late Rabbi (and Jewish Defense League
founder) Meir Kahane, Goldstein acted in accordance with many of the views
held by Kahane loyalists. Predictably, newspaper coverage of the mass
murder grabbed headlines and shocked people around the world. Some news
stories attempted to explain Goldstein's motives.
Yet a most interesting article - one that stands out from the others -
was published on March 6 (eight days after Goldstein's attack) by New York
Times reporter Michael Kaufman who thinks back 23 years to his own early
Rabbi Kahane, and evaluates the earlier New York Times news story he published
as a result
of those interviews. It is a critical look back at how the past may have
present, how an article in 1971 relates to current events. The Baruch
apparently precipitated some large issues Kaufman must have been wrestling
with for years.
Kaufman reports on his research and interviews with Kahane:
I learned how [Meir Kahane] had dabbled in right-wing
politics.... In some circles he had called himself Michael King,
writing under this name and even telling some of those who knew him
in this way that he was a Presbyterian.
Smart and cocky, he readily talked of his early failures, like
flunking the bar exam and his dismissal as rabbi by a congregation in
Howard Beach, Queens, that thought him too orthodox.... But now, he
told me, with the J.D.L. things were different. He had found a
constituency that would make him known.
He told me, 'We have no great funds, no great influence, so the answer is
simple: to do outrageous things.' It was a formula that he used for the rest of
his life, one that led to his being killed, one that is still being used by his
And, Kaufman suggests, the press played right along with Kahane,
dutifully reporting on the "outrageous things" that were calculated to grab
attention in the early '70s. In a format that sounds more like a
confessional than a news article, Kaufman revealed, in the March 6, 1994
New York Times article, how he himself helped propagate Kahane's image. As
part of his
early research, Kaufman uncovered some particularly incriminating information
- namely, that Kahane had had an affair with his secretary, Estelle Donna
Evans, in 1966.
She killed herself when she discovered he was married. Her suicide was covered
by the New
York Times, but she was not linked to Meir Kahane (a photograph of Evans being
after jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge - she died a few days later -
accompanied the March
6, 1994 article).
When Kaufman confronted the rabbi with this story, Kahane admitted it was
true but begged Kaufman not to publish it. For whatever reasons, Kaufman
caved in. The original Kahane article appeared in the January 24, 1971
issue of The New York Times, with the compromising information about the rabbi
as to mask to truth.
From the vantage point of 1994, it looks as if Kaufman participated in
Meir Kahane's personal propaganda campaign by suppressing a significant
part of the Kahane story - namely, his extramarital affair with a non-Jew.
Kaufman now worries that he contributed too heavily to Kahane's cause.
Looking back with lucid hindsight, Kaufman wonders:
Years later, when racist supporters of the Rabbi's Kach movement screamed that
their Israeli critics slept with Arabs or lived with shikses, I re-examined my
choices and wished I had stressed the Estelle Donna Evans story more prominently
in my expose.... Had I written more boldly, would the rabbi's credibility with
his followers have lessened? Would young men like the then-19-year-old Baruch
Goldstein have freed themselves from the rabbi's spell? Was that my job, to
bring the rabbi down?... I do not know. Over the years I have asked a number of
rabbis about it. Some said that setting out to destroy a reputation by revealing
secrets of a private life is tantamount to murder. But I am more impressed by
those who told me that showing mercy to the cruel is wrong and sinful.
Here, Kaufman's reappraisal of the late Meir Kahane contains elements of
a confession. It is a confession that is unique for its honesty, the
complexity of issues it presents and the fact that he published this in the
New York Times as something of an addendum to his earlier feature. It also
touchstone for the condition of religious reporting in America. Why did
the reputation of this rabbi? Many influences can be identified as aspects of
Agenda-setting for the 1971 article
Kaufman's employer may have purposely, or inadvertently, set the agenda
for this article topic in 1971.; maybe a publisher or editor of The New York
Times wanted to build awareness of emerging Jewish leaders. Even more probable
motivation was recognition of and service to the newspaper's significant
readership. Most likely, benign influences worked to get a Kahane feature on
Kaufman apparently had no reason to suspect he would uncover anything
extraordinary in the
man he was assigned to interview.
Gatekeeping in the 1971 article
Stated simply, Kaufman protected Meir Kahane by withholding significant
aspects of his life story. He gave a nod to objectivity by "burying" some
of the Estelle Donna Evans story in his article, but this was meant to be
an obtuse reference and therefore failed to spark much interest. It was
forgotten. Interestingly, Kaufman does not suggest he discussed this
problem with his editors. We are left to think he chose, on his own, to
protect Kahane's image. This seems unlikely. Most reporters discuss every
aspect of a difficult story with their editors. If Kaufman had done so, he
may have been asked to soften the facts. But if Kaufman acted alone, he was
still under the influence of his employers - Jewish newspaper publishers -
and may have felt the need to present a more positive spin on this radical
Jewish movement. Kaufman may also have been influenced by his own
understanding of Jewish teachings, especially with regard to "revealing the
secrets of a private life." Maybe Kaufman was soft-hearted. Maybe he was
assigned the story because his editors viewed him as a pushover. Were that
the case, however, we would expect Kaufman to have mentioned it in his 1994
Agenda-setting in the 1994 article
The public agenda - publicity surrounding the massacre in Hebron - set
the agenda for Kaufman's reconsideration of his earlier Kahane story. Just
as the public pays attention to every little detail that might reveal the
cause of a commercial jet crash, the public would likely have an interest
in any number of factors that may have prompted Baruch Goldstein to slay so
many people. While Kaufman doesn't imply he is responsible for Goldstein's
acts, he recognizes the possibility that, had he been truthful in his 1971
article, Meir Kahane's following might have been quite different. In any
event, it was the effect of larger concerns - fairness, public opinion, and
possibly even the regrets of informed New York Times personnel - that likely
coalesced to assure the publication of this article. This accommodates the
theme of a
somewhat hierarchical influence in agenda-setting.
Gatekeeping in the 1994 article
It is difficult to identify ways in which gatekeeping influenced this
story. In fact, Kaufman's 1994 story is an attempt to wash away the sins
created by the gatekeeping at work in his 1971 article.
Summary: Implications for Press Professionals
From the above examples, one is able to distinguish between
agenda-setting and gatekeeping as they relate to religious topics in the
news media. From these illustrations, and from the collected critiques of
journalists and mass media scholars, it would seem that agenda-setting aspects
are generally neutral or positive with respect to their effect on news
Agenda-setting can be negative, but at the very least, it is pro-active. On
hand, gatekeeping effects tend to be negative, because they reflect the
journalists encounter in their work, in the workplace and in the action of
information and delivering news.
Is this of any consequence to journalists? Only in so far as these
conclusions might be used to help reporters and editors identify ways in
which they shape the delivery of this news genre. A shortcoming of so many
of these conferences and special studies has been a lack of reasonable
advice that journalists can apply to their work. The attention to this
subject has been valuable in creating more awareness of the need for
increased sensitivity to religious issues, as well as a push for greater
understanding of how important religion may be in the lives of many
Americans, and how these elements might direct the selection and delivery
of news. Unfortunately, most studies offer only vague suggestions about
ways in which these goals might be achieved. Such murkiness is not useful
to busy reporters and editors.
It was fine for the earlier (say, up to the early 1990s) critiques to
observe that religion reporting reflects a lack of depth, but now these
critiques must identify ways in which journalists can develop a deeper
understanding (and therefore better coverage) of religious themes.
Otherwise, no new contributions are made that can benefit the
This particular study focused on agenda-setting and gatekeeping because
it is felt that an increased awareness of these functions can give
journalists a useful tool to help understand their own coverage of
religious themes. For instance, agenda-setting seems to be most active when
stories are being assigned. Mark Silk made the point that
establishment-clause topics will generally be covered, while free-exercise
issues will generally be ignored. If that is true, then journalists must
realize that they are more prone to covering religious themes when they
have implications for the public.
At the very least, an editor (in assigning a story) or a reporter (in
suggesting a topic) should be aware of how agenda-setting functions in the
early phases of an article. They might stop to ask what assumptions are
being made about the religion being covered, or the people practicing that
religion. Would those same assumptions be made if the religion were either
more mainstream or more of a cult? Is the story angle meant to expose or
exploit a religious group? Or is it a puff piece meant to condone a faith
or promote a new temple? A short reflection on such a question - what type of
agenda are we setting with this article? - can help in the crafting and
The public should be able to set the agenda as well. Surveys have found
that media audiences are genuinely interested in seeing news stories and
features on religion. That being the case, editors could set the agenda by
building awareness, say, of the diversity of religions through devising a
series of features on religious groups specific to their region.
Keeping track of the gatekeeping function is far more difficult, in that
it is more personalized. Each reporter and editor will have his biases and
his particular definition of fairness. Each will also be aware of the
management's sentiments (if any) toward religious groups. (One way of
assuring fair coverage just might be to hire reporters who represent
various faiths, or who have studied religion and religious history.) It
might come down to each newspaper composing editorial guidelines that are
included in the publication's stylebook. Minimal expectations would involve
assessing how a reporter's perception of a religion might bias his
interviewing, research and writing. One might also ask, Is this approach too
simplistic? Have we created a show of controversy that does not exist?
As part of Bridging the Gap, the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center included
valuable list of sources (including major religious groups, minor ones and
atheistic Freedom From Religion), as well as brief summaries of the world's
religions. The information could be made available to reporters assigned to
any story that
The need for this type of a resource is great. Looking to an example I
witnessed at Reader's Digest, I see how a lack of understanding can lead to a
misunderstanding. A story on the history of Slinky, the children's toy, was
the normal production channels. It reached the research department and was
sent to a fact
checker who, coincidentally, had a blanket disregard for religion of any kind.
of the Slinky story involved the breakup of the husband-and-wife company
man, now deceased, had decided that after earning enormous wealth through the
would devote his time to a religious cause. In the story, the woman is posited
heroine of the story: she took over the management of the company and divorced
for leaving to join "some cult." But it was not a cult at all, by any stretch
of the defin
ition. That reference was not checked, yet should have been a red flag to the
Digest research department, especially considering the number of articles on
magazine has published over the years. The "cult" reference stayed in the
A few weeks after publication, the magazine received several letters from
people who knew exactly what "cult" it was the man had joined. It was
called the Wycliffe Bible Translators, an international Bible missionary
group that is actually recognized as a fairly benign organization. It
certainly does not fall into Reader's Digest's own definitions of a cult. The
reference brought into play issues of character defamation and outraged many
missionaries who had known this man.
This incident turns on one misunderstanding. The fact-checker should have
researched the "cult" reference. But, given her negative views of religion,
she was satisfied with that use of the term and foresaw no controversy. At
the time, she saw no difference between the terms "religion" and "cult." To
her, the two were virtually interchangeable. That is no longer the case,
but it shows how one person's perceptions of religious groups, combined
with an unwillingness to explore these groups, can lead to discrimination,
misrepresentation and even libel. It's therefore critical for publishers to
remind reporters and editors of their particular responsibilities in this
What's unique about assessing religious coverage on the individual level of
gatekeeping is that it asks each reporter to consider personal biases detached
from the influences of the newsroom or the "media culture" in general. In a
sense, reporters would act as gatekeepers for their own processes of
gatekeeping. Such an exercise could lead to sincerity (perhaps in exchange for a
presumed cynicism) when covering these issues. As described by DeFleur and
Rokeach, " ... persuasive messages presented via the mass media may provide the
appearance of a consensus regarding orientation and action with respect to a
given object or goal of persuasion ... The communicator thus provides social
constructions of reality, shortcutting the process of consensual validation
..." In other words, the subjective reality of the journalist can
contribute to the social construction of reality, and interpretations of
religious issues are thereby propagated through communication channels.
There are many voices in the contemporary media/religion debate. Marvin
Olasky's is one of the loudest, which is rather remarkable, in that he
essentially promotes the need for a Christian-oriented mass press.
Softening Olasky's stand is Mark Silk, who reminds that the threads of
religious tradition, belief and practice are woven into American culture.
Silk says religion is indeed represented in the media, and represented
fairly. Yes, there are problems. Mistakes are made, and presumptions often
put an unnecessary spin on a story. But these limitations can be overcome.
A closer look, by media professionals, to the functions of gatekeeping and
agenda-setting in this area, would help prove that Mark Silk's
interpretation is correct.
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_____. "Finding Religion," Quill, Jan./Feb. 1996.
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Catholic Reporter, October 22, 1993.
Maus, Mike. "Believers as Behavers: News Coverage of Evangelicals by the
Media," American Evangelicals and the Mass Media, Quentin J. Schultze, ed.
Rapids: The Zondervan Corporations, 1990.
McCombs, Maxwell. "News Influence on Our Pictures of the World," Media
Jennings Bryant and Dolf Zillmann, eds. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum
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Evangelicals and the Mass Media. Quentin J. Schultze, ed. Grand Rapids: The
_____. Prodigal Press. Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1988.
Pippert, Wesley G. "Worldly Reporters and Born-Again Believers: How Each
the Other," American Evangelicals and the Mass Media, Quentin J. Schultze,
Rapids: The Zondervan Corporations, 1990.
Rogers, Everett M. "The Agenda-Setting Process." Unpublished paper. Presented
the Association for Public Opinion Research, 1986.
Shaw, Donald L., and Shannon E. Martin. "The Function of Mass Media Agenda
Journalism Quarterly, vol. 69, no. 4, winter 1992.
Silk, Mark. Unsecular Media. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press,
Shepard, Alicia. "The Media Get Religion," American Journalism Review,
1995. (Page numbers are unavailable. This article was accessed via the
First Amendment Center web site.)
Stempel, Guido H., III. "Gatekeeping: The Mix of Topics and the Selection of
Stories," Journalism Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 4, winter 1985.
Walsh, Sister Mary Ann. "A 'Scoop' Implausible On Its Face; CNN's trashing of
Cardinal Bernardin," The Washington Post, April 15, 1994.
Weaver, David. "Issue Salience and Public Opinion: Are There Consequences of
Agenda-Setting?" International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Vol. 3,
Weimann, Gabriel and Hans-Bernd Brosius. "Is There a Two-Step Flow of
Agenda-Setting?" International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Vol. 6,
White, David Manning. "The Gate-Keeper: A Case Study in the Selection of
Journalism Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 4, winter 1949. Republished in People,
Mass Communications, Lewis Anthony Dexter and David Manning White, eds., New
Free Press, 1964.
Willey, Susan. "Journalism and Religion," Quill, January/February 1996.
Woodward, Kenneth L. "Religion Observed: The Impact of the Medium on the
Mass Media. London: SCM Press Ltd., 1993.
Religion and the News. New York: Freedom Forum Media Studies Center, Columbia
The RNS-Lilly Study of Religion Reporting and Readership in the Daily Press.
Hoover, principle investigator, Temple University, October 1989.
 Olasky, Marvin. "Democracy and the Secularization of the American
Evangelicals and the Mass Media. Quentin J. Schultze, ed. Grand Rapids: The
Corporations, 1990, p. 51.
 Nord, David Paul. "Teleology and News: The Religious Roots of American
1630-1730," The Journal of American History, June, 1990, p. 26.
 Buddenbaum, Judith M. "'Judge...What Their Acts Will Justify': The
of James Gordon Bennett," Journalism History, vol. 14, Summer/Autumn 1987, p.
 Buddenbaum, 1987, p. 65.
 Norton, William Bernard. Church and Newspaper. New York: The MacMillan
 In The Naked Public Square, Richard John Neuhaus observes, "The evidence
research overwhelmingly and consistently confirms the religiousness of the
American people. This
is the mainline American experience." From The Naked Public Square. Grand
Rapids: Wm. B.
Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1984, p. 204.
 Carter, Stephen L. The Culture of Disbelief. New York: Basic Books,
1993, p. 25.
 Willey, Susan. "Journalism and Religion," Quill, January/February 1996,
 Moore, R. Laurence. Selling God. New York: Oxford University Press,
1994, p. 256.
 Ammerman, Nancy T. "Telling Congregational Stories," Review of
Vol. 35, No. 4, June 1994.
 Hoover, Stewart M. "Media Scholarship and the Question of Religion:
Evolving Theory and
Method, to be presented before the International Communication Association,
Division, Jerusalem, July, 1998, p. 3.
 Silk, Mark. Unsecular Media. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois
Press, 1995, p.
75. Silk's observation here was the inspiration for the theme of this paper.
 Hunter, James Davison. "Before the Shooting Begins," Columbia
July/August 1993, p. 30.
 Dart, John and Jimmy Allen. Bridging the Gap: Religion and the News
Freedom Forum First Amendment Center, 1993.
 See especially The RNS-Lilly Study of Religion Reporting and Readership
in the Daily
Press. Stewart Hoover, principle investigator, Temple University, October
1989, as well as
forthcoming works by Hoover, 1998.
 The Media, Culture and Religion conference was organized by Stewart
Hoover of the
University of Colorado School of Journalism.
 Walsh, Sister Mary Ann. "A 'Scoop' Implausible On Its Face; CNN's
trashing of Cardinal
Bernardin," The Washington Post, April 15, 1994, p. A25.
 McCombs, Maxwell. "News Influence on Our Pictures of the World," Media
Jennings Bryant and Dolf Zillmann, eds. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum
Publishers, 1994, p. 3.
 Shaw, Donald L., and Shannon E. Martin. "The Function of Mass Media
Journalism Quarterly, vol. 69, no. 4, winter 1992, p. 903.
 Rogers, Everett M. "The Agenda-Setting Process." Unpublished paper.
the Association for Public Opinion Research, 1986, p. 5.
 Cohen, Bernard. The Press and Foreign Policy. Princeton, New Jersey:
University Press, 1963, p. 13.
 Weaver, David. "Issue Salience and Public Opinion: Are There
Agenda-Setting?" International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Vol. 3
No. 1, spring 1991,
 Hernandez, Debra Gersh. "Improving Election Reporting," Editor &
Publisher, Oct. 5,
1996, p. 16. (Page number may be incorrect: volume could not be found in
Mugar Library; this
article was accessed via the Nexis database.)
 McCombs, 1994, p. 15.
 Maus, Mike. "Believers as Behavers: News Coverage of Evangelicals by
Media," American Evangelicals and the Mass Media, Quentin J. Schultze, ed.
Grand Rapids: The
Zondervan Corporations, 1990, p. 260.
 Rogers,1986, p. 25.
 Carter,1993, p. 59. The parentheses are in Carter's original text.
 Bates, Stephen. "Separation of Church and Press?" Forbes Media Critic,
Vol. 1, No. 4,
summer 1994, p. 54.
 Silk, 1995, p. 11.
 Pippert, Wesley G. "Worldly Reporters and Born-Again Believers: How
Each Perceives the
Other," American Evangelicals and the Mass Media, Quentin J. Schultze, ed.
Grand Rapids: The
Zondervan Corporations, 1990, p. 281.
 Shepard, Alicia. "The Media Get Religion," American Journalism Review,
(Page numbers are unavailable. This volume could not be found in Mugar
Library and was accessed
via the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center web site.)
 Shepard, 1995.
 Shepard, 1995.
 White, David Manning. "The Gate-Keeper: A Case Study in the Selection
Journalism Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 4, winter 1949, pp. 383-390. Republished
in People, Society
and Mass Communications, Lewis Anthony Dexter and David Manning White, eds.,
New York: The Free
Press, 1964, p. 162.
 Gieber, Walter. "News Is What Newspapermen Make It," in People, Society
Communications, Lewis Anthony Dexter and David Manning White, eds., New York:
The Free Press,
1964, pp. 173-180.
 Brown, Richard M. "The Gatekeeper Reassessed: A Return to Lewin,"
Vol. 56, No. 3, autumn 1979, 595-601.
 Stempel, Guido H., III. "Gatekeeping: The Mix of Topics and the
Selection of Stories,"
Journalism Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 4, winter 1985, 791-796+.
 McCombs, 1994, p. 15.
 Davison, W. Phillips, James Boyland and Frederick T.C. Yu. Mass Media
Effects. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1976, pp. 88-89.
 Neuhaus, 1984, p. 205.
 Woodward, 1993, p. 102.
 Hunter, 1993, p. 32.
 Silk, 1995, p. 148.
 Lefevere, Patricia. "Media awkward about religion, shun it, experts
Catholic Reporter, October 22, 1993, p. 5.
 Briggs, Kenneth A. "Why Editors Miss Important Religious Stories,"
Reporting Religion -
Facts & Faith. Benjamin J. Hubbard, ed. Sonoma, California: Polebridge
Press, 1990, p. 49.
 Hunter, 1993, p. 31.
 Woodward, Kenneth L. "Religion Observed: The Impact of the Medium on
Mass Media. London: SCM Press Ltd., 1993, p. 108.
 Hoover, Stewart M. "Finding Religion," Quill, Jan./Feb. 1996, 36-37.
 Barrett, Laurence I. "The 'Religious Right' and the Pagan Press,"
Review, July/August, 1993, p. 33.
 Bates, 1994, p.51.
 Silk, 1995, p. 148.
 Kaufman, Michael T. "Remembering Kahane, and the woman on the bridge,"
The New York Times
, p. 1, sec. 4, March 6, 1994.
 Kaufman, 1994.
 DeFleur, Melvin L. and Sandra Ball-Rokeach. Theories of Mass
Communication. Third Edition.
New York: David McKay Company, Inc. 1966, 1970 and 1975, p. 251.