Religion in America and on the Network News
On February 25 the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released a new study examining the religious landscape of
What did major broadcast news outlets find most interesting?
CBS Evening News reporter Wyatt Andrews introduced his story with: “This unprecedented survey of religion answers many of the concerns about a secular, morally void
NBC Nightly News reporter Chris Jansing led her piece with the major Pew finding, that “more and more of us no longer practice the faith of our fathers.” The rest of the story reported the findings like a competition between faiths, rather than recognizing that the overwhelmingly
While both CBS and NBC chose to give the study a couple of minutes of air time, ABC World News anchor Charles Gibson practically glossed over it with an anchor brief in which he only said, “A fascinating study released today about religion in America. Almost half of adults have left the religion of their childhood, or in the case of Protestants, switched denominations. Overall the country still has a Protestant majority, just barely. More results of this study at ABC News.com.”
Of the broadcast networks, CBS gave the story the most context and depth, including the mention that Evangelical Christianity was the largest faith group represented in the survey even though “the political clout of evangelicals has splintered in this election year.” CBS also noted the impact immigration is having on the religious complexion of
Andrews also reported on the percentages of other faiths represented in the
In contrast NBC's Jansing seemed more taken with the idea of a “volatile” landscape and competition among the faiths noting that Protestants “could soon lose their status,” many Catholics “have left the church” and the “fastest growing” group is unaffiliated.
Jansing spent the most time exploring the idea that people are looking for “programs that meet their needs” rather than specific teachings and used a twice-divorced Christian convert from Buddhism to make the point. She closed her story with the observation, “Religion as competition in the increasingly diverse and dynamic world of worship.”