January 21, 2011

How Should the Media Cover Atheism?

mediaEveryone loves to attack the U.S. media. They make an easy target, as they have made some colossal blunders with serious consequences. In this post, I'd like to begin to explore a much more difficult subject: how should the media cover atheism?

I am going to dispense with the question of whether the media should cover atheism at all because we are past that; the media is going to cover atheism. The question for us is going to be how best to contribute to this coverage.

Here are some initial suggestions about how members of the media can improve their coverage of atheism:
  • Learn about the resources available to assist members of the media in reporting on atheism.
  • Hire reporters, commentators, and even news anchors who are open atheists. This may sound controversial, but many media personalities tirelessly promote religion, and this would be a great way to connect with the atheist audience.
  • Understand that there are valid reasons for many atheists perceiving the media as being fairly hostile to atheism. We are often portrayed as radicals despite our numbers simply because we prefer to base our worldviews on reality rather than superstition.
  • Recognize that many atheists cannot publicly identify themselves as atheists because doing so would lead them to lose their jobs, be disowned by their families, or even be assaulted by Christians.
  • When wanting to know about atheism, talk to atheists. It would not occur to most reporters to base a story about Christians on what Muslims told them, but it is not unheard of for reporters to do a piece on atheism based on interviews with Christians.
  • It is commonplace for reporters to include the perspective of Christians in stories about atheism, but it is almost unheard of to include the perspective of atheists in stories about Christianity. This is especially when it comes to Christian extremism. Atheists can be a great resource for reporters looking for help in challenging false claims.

What would you add?

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