Theory: Journalists are too irreligious to report properly on issues involving religion.
Credentials Required to Support this Theory: A doctorate in cognitive psychology supported by extensive field work  
Actual Credentials: A B.A. in Communications, an M.S. in Social Research, a case of religious exhibitionism and an axe to grind
 

 We all know that you’re supposed to send a thief to catch a thief. But should you then send a third thief to report on the subsequent capture? Billy Hallowell thinks so. 

The GOP’s web-enabled wunderkind has rubbed shoulders with the Heritage Foundation and MTV’s  ‘Real World’ – but while his interests are many and diverse, the ones that he allows to sit beneath his name at williamhallowell.com are: ‘faith’, ‘American politics’, ‘media’, and ‘society’. A reasonable argument could be made that any one of these things is actively destroying any or all of the others, but Mr. Hallowell is particularly concerned about the relationship between doors one and three. Specifically:  

“…Past Gallup polls have shown as many as eight in ten Americans claim allegiance to Christianity.  Clearly, these numbers show the need for proper journalistic understanding and presentation, especially when covering stories rooted in Christian themes. Not enough journalists are regular church goers.”  

The primary target of Hallowell’s ire is ‘God’s Warriors’, Christiane Amanpour’s 2007 CNN mini-series. Its primary fault, Hallowell feels, is “an enhanced level of relativism” – particularly when it comes to “equating the deaths as a result of radical Islamic fascism to those of contemporary Christianity and Judaism.” No doubt the victims in question would be hard-pressed to identify the distinction to which Hallowell alludes, and Hallowell himself does not pursue the matter. Even assuming that it is indeed fundamentally preferable to be killed by Christians or Jews, however, one key question remains:  

What makes him think that religious persons would do a better job of reporting on religion?  

There seems to be a hint of gonzoism in Hallowell’s journalistic philosophy. As a general rule, objectivity and detachment are celebrated in the field – but Hallowell finds this arrangement unsatisfactory when it comes to coverage of religious issues. He argues that “a lack of [religious] diversity” in the newsroom (by which he appears to mean “not enough Christians”) leaves the American news media unequipped to bring sufficient understanding to bear on matters of faith. He does not, however, make much of an effort to back up this contention, which may be because it makes very little sense.  

How many convicted murderers do we have reporting from crime scenes? How many war correspondents carry rifles? In fact, there are only two areas of the news media that are dominated by practitioners, namely ‘sports’ and ‘politics’ – in which realms the retired jocks and the unelectable hacks are celebrated precisely because they’re lousy journalists. A deep and emotional partisanship regarding the subject of your reportage makes for great entertainment, but it doesn’t win a lot of Pulitzers. Is there some reason to think that religion is somehow different, and that an abiding (religious?) attachment to the subject matter improves a journalist’s integrity rather than degrading it?  

Well, is there?  

Maybe. I don’t know. More to the point, neither does Billy Hallowell. He’s got a big ol’ problem with the way religion is portrayed, and he’s got a theory of how to fix it. Unfortunately, that theory appears to be based more on wishful thinking than peer-reviewed studies of journalistic psychology. Billy Hallowell is a man of faith, a blogger of note, and a toxicon.

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