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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

USC

Survey Reveals How Media Portrays Religion

A study about religion coverage in the news criticizes the limited knowledge many reporters have about other religions other than their own.

A one-of-a-kind study about religion coverage reveals that the public believes religion is not accurately portrayed in the media.

The survey indicates the public wants more accurate religion coverage (Photo courtesy of APGraphics)
The survey indicates the public wants more accurate religion coverage (Photo courtesy of APGraphics)

This study is the first of its kind, compiling responses from reporters and people who consume news. USC's Knight Program in Media and Religion and University of Akron's Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics conducted the survey.

The survey shows that reporters actually have limited knowledge about religions other than their own.

"Both the public and reporters ranked TV news lowest in the quality and quantity of religion coverage compared to other media with 28.1 percent of the public and 8 percent of reporters responding that broadcast news provided "good" religion coverage," the survey reported.

People who watch or read the news also commented that they would like to see reporters concentrate on religious experiences and practices and less on polarized religious issues.

"The American public sees religion in starkly polarized terms. Nearly half, or 43.6 percent, believes religion is a source of conflict in the world, while a narrow majority, 52.6 percent, sees it as a fount of good," the study also found.

The report consisted of two surveys distributed from February 15 to May 11, 2010.

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