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Journalism and the “Religious Angle”

June 17, 2010

Get Religion comments on the AP news story on the man caught trying to track down Bin Laden. Molly’s point (at Get Religion) is on how the “religious angle” is handled by AP.  She writes:

The AP story is no gem itself, however. Here’s how the religion angle is handled:

Catching bin Laden was 50-year-old Faulkner’s passion, his brother Scott Faulkner said. A devout Christian with a prison record, Faulkner has been to Pakistan at least six times, learned some of the local language, and even grew a long beard to blend in, relatives and acquaintances said.

Now, I by no means think that a prison record is incompatible with being a devout Christian, but this is really poor phrasing. What, exactly, makes him devout? His flouting of American law? There’s clearly a religion angle here that needs to be explored, but this only raises more questions.

Telling us that this man is a generic “devout Christian” replaces that exploration with a fairly meaningless label. What are his specific religious beliefs? How does he demonstrate devotion to those beliefs? Why is the phrase “devout Christian” being used here? Show us his devotion to Christianity rather than tell us without any evidence.

You can read the whole thing here.

Its a good example of poor journalism, whether its on religion or any other matter.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 18, 2010 1:08 am


    I am sure that you meant tracking down Osama instead of Obama. Though tracking down the latter could be fun too, in a different way. 😉


  2. John Starke permalink*
    June 18, 2010 4:02 pm

    One of those typos that, no matter how many times you proof read, you never catch. Thanks, Edward.

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