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New Global Study Shows Journalists Need More Religious Literacy

Summary by Alessio Atria

A new Davis & Partners global study discusses the news media’s perceptions of and often misunderstandings about faith. A summary of the findings was shared by the company’s founder and president, Jim Davis, during the opening lunch of Dare to Overcome, the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s annual faith@work conference, May 23-25, 2022.


Faith and Media: New Global Study

According to this global study, 63% of faith-related media has a negative slant.

The study also finds that less than 20% of journalists lack an understanding of the nuances of faith beyond the religious traditions in which they were raised. Such a lack of understanding contributes to a preponderance of negative press on religious hot-button subjects ranging from sexual abuse and LGBTQ issues, to gender and race.

The global faith and media study finds that 78% of faith-based news media emanates from social media while 16% of it emerges from blogs, and another 6% comes from news organizations.

In terms of the consumption of faith-related media, the study estimated that 86% of faith-based content is usually given a quick glance by the consumers, as they usually just look at the headline and skim the actual article. Only 14% of the consumers in the study indicated that they shared or re-shared faith-related content, suggesting that only a small percentage engaged with the content more thoroughly.

This study has also estimates that 35 million American people would welcome more faith-related content. Among these 35 million, 39% identify as people of color, 26% as Evangelicals, another 22% as Protestant, while 27% said they did not consider themselves members of a certain wisdom tradition and instead saw themselves as very religious people who supported many faith traditions.

Conclusions: The study offers hope that faith could be more positively represented in the news media, but that this can only happen if there is a collective effort. Faith leaders and the news media must encourage a sense of mutual understanding and better collaboration so that everyone can be more accurately portrayed. Indeed, faith communities offer many priceless contributions to society, which often go unreported.


Related Content

For more on the positive socio-economic contributions of religion to American society, see the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s study, $1.2 trillion US Religious Economy.