This case utilizes the following four articles. The situation described in the problem is hypothetical.
- “The Case for Intelligent Design”
- “Greetings from Idiot America”
- “Scientists Speak Up on Mix of God and Science”
- “Spirited Debate”
The journalistic coverage of religion is on the rise as the visibility of religion and spirituality increases in American society, politics and popular culture. The managing editors of the publications that printed the stories listed above have been inundated with reader feedback – both positive and negative. After seeing the volume and passion of the letters, the editors decide they must respond. Each editor asks the ombudsman to evaluate the stories to determine whether the stories were fair. Ultimately the editors want the ombudsmen to write columns on how reporters should cover controversial issues involving religion and diverse religious beliefs and practices with which reporters may be unfamiliar. The ombudsmen will also consider ways for reporters to minimize personal bias in reporting about religion.
Issues and Study Questions
- Based on the overview above, what are the issues?
- What are the beliefs at issue here?
- Why did the readers support or object to the coverage?
- What could the journalists do differently?
- What do you feel the ombudsmen should do here?
- Why was religion an issue in this situation?
- What is the responsibility of the publishers in such a situation? What about other professions?
- Do you think there is a “right” and “wrong” way to handle this situation? Why? Why not?
- Have you faced similar issues in your own profession or personal life? If so, what were they? Were they resolved?
- What can be learned?
- Do you think education about religious literacy would have helped/harmed in this situation? How so?
Source: Religion and the Professions (General Honors 1030) taught by Dr. Jill Raitt, University of Missouri