Bad, Lazy Blogger

The newest issue of "Religion in the News" from The Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life is online, and it's got a great editorial from editor Mark Silk.

Silk takes on Christian Smith, a sociology professor at Chapel Hill, who's piece on "Religiously Ignorant Journalists" caused a stir some months back.

Here's his beef:

Today I received a phone message from a journalist from a major Dallas newspaper who wanted to talk to me about a story he was writing about "Episcopals," about how the controversy over the 2003 General Convention's approval of the homosexual bishop, Gene Robinson, would affect "Episcopals." What an embarrassment. How do I break the news to him that there are no "Episcopals"? Actually, they are called Episcopalians. Of greater concern, I wonder how this journalist is going to write an informed and informing story in a few days about such an important and complex matter when he doesn't even know enough in starting to call his subjects by their right name.

A number of bloggers and religion journalists took him on, including John Dart.
Diane Winston.
(Heck, I even tried)

But Silk, unlike the bloggers or Dr. Smith, it appears, tracked down the article in question to see how it turned out.

The horror, the horror. Of course, given that his article appeared months after the General Convention, Smith might, like any minimally scrupulous journalist, have taken the trouble to see if his concern was warranted.

As it turned out, the 1,500-word article on the subject that ran August 16 in the Dallas Morning News—the only existing “major Dallas newspaper”—not only used the terms “Episcopal” and “Episcopalian” correctly but also happened to be informed and informing. From this Smith could have concluded that the reporter, Jeffrey Weiss, was either a wonderfully quick study or not nearly as ignorant as his voice message seemed to suggest.

So maybe I'm beating a dead horse here, but DUH!! The first question that we ought to have asked of Dr. Smith's article is, as the old saying goes, "Where's the beef?" Where's the religiously ignorant story that this religiously ignorant journalist turned out.

It doesn't exist. Oops.


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