Religion News Coverage Between 1930 and 1960

Debra L. Mason

in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the American News Media

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780195395068
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Religion News Coverage Between 1930 and 1960


Between 1930 and 1960, journalistic news values, ethics, and practice were institutionalized. As a result of journalism's professionalization, the purposes of religious public relations and of religion news grew more distinct. The story of religion coverage between 1930 and 1960 reflects these trends. It is a story of increasing differentiation between the secular and faith-based meaning of religion news. It is the story of religion news becoming a true beat, with its own professional identity. Equally, it is a story of the religion beat's need to improve execution of the craft, as evidenced by its homogeneous framing of faith—fixated on mainline Protestant Christians, Roman Catholics, and Jews. This article examines religion news coverage between 1930 and 1960, focusing on how shared values fueled early vision for professional religion news. It first discusses the Religion News Service's efforts to promote objectivity in reporting about religion and its coverage of World War II. It then explores how postwar religious revival ignited formal professionalization on the religion beat and concludes by discussing how ethics and responsibilities encouraged rigorous religion reporting.

Keywords: religion reporting; ethics; religious revival; religion; World War II; Religion News Service; objectivity; religion news; religion beat

Article.  6591 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies

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