How should we report about Justin Bieber, Kanye West and other cases of well-known personalities who are considering the Christian faith?
Dean Baquet says newspapers fail to understand the central role that faith plays in the everyday life of many citizens.
According to the most influential journalist of the The New York Times, Dean Baquet, it is a problem that the editorial offices of the generalist newspapers do not have the necessary minimum knowledge regarding faith issues.
In an interview with NPR, the Executive Editor of the newspaper said his team has failed to understand the “disconnectedness that people feel” in the USA at the moment.
“MEDIA POWERHOUSES DO NOT GET RELIGION”
“I think that the New York-based and Washington-based too probably, media powerhouses don't quite get religion”, Baquet said.
“We have a fabulous religion writer, but she's all alone. We don't get religion. We don't get the role of religion in people's lives. And I think we can do much, much better. And I think there are things that we can be more creative about to understand the country”, he pointed out.
ANXIETY DURING ELECTIONS
The New York Times was one of the many media outlets that did not predict Donald Trump's victory in the November presidential election. The religious factor was a blind spot that influenced more than was expected in the final result.
The newspaper “did not have a handle on just how much anxiety there was in the country”, Baquet recognised. “And we did not have a handle on just how much that anxiety was going to drive the election”, he added.
EXPLAINING THE FAITH TO THE MEDIA
The words of the head of The New York Times confirm a feeling evangelical Christians have often expressed.
Misinformation or misrepresentation, along with a poor coverage and presence of evangelical issues on the media, have shown that journalists often know little about the faith of citizens (especially if they belong to religious minorities).
In response to this situation, news website Protestant Digital published in Spain a "Protestant Style Book" (2009), coordinated by Evangelical Focus director, Pedro Tarquis, and writer and journalist José de Segovia. It gives information professionals basic notions about the beliefs of Protestant Christians, their history and basic information about how churches are organised in the country.
The style book also helps to avoid common misunderstandings, such as speaking of "evangelical mass" (rather than "evangelical service"), or referring to evangelicals as "evangelists."