Promoting a Secular Standard: Secularization and Modern Journalism, 1870–1930

Richard W. Flory

in The Secular Revolution

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2003 | ISBN: 9780520230002
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520936706 | DOI:
Promoting a Secular Standard: Secularization and Modern Journalism, 1870–1930

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Journalism played a significant role in the secularization of American public life by spreading ideas adapted from institutional spheres of knowledge production to the general public. This chapter focuses on two areas of journalism history: changes in the presentation of traditional religion in the press; and efforts to establish the “profession” of journalism between 1870 and 1930. During this period, traditional religion was presented as being too sectarian and lacking in modern understanding, and modern science was emphasized as the authoritative voice for modern life. Journalism professionalizers framed professional journalism in religious terms, arguing that “factual” knowledge was the key to solving social problems and that journalism alone was in the position to provide such knowledge to the mass of society. This placed journalism in an indispensable role between primary knowledge producers and the rest of society, in which capacity it fulfilled the role of the moral educator of modern society.

Keywords: journalism; secularization; traditional religion; modern science; moral educator

Chapter.  17593 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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