July 1, 2014

Correcting the Record

The media have a big effect on how we view the world. Even when striving for objectivity—objectivity is a very slippery concept—bias can creep into a reporter’s work unbidden.

Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby was the subject of many news stories, and I found one of them particularly irritating. It was the lead story on the 3:01 PM EDT news summary on NPR.

The report began: “In a major victory for religious groups .” The decision, of course, was a victory only for some religious groups (and not a religious group to which I belong). I promptly wrote a note to the NPR Ombudsman, Edward Schumacher-Matos. Here is the text of my e-mail message:

The latest hourly news summary began with a story of the Hobby Lobby decision with these words: “In a major victory for religious groups .” This is a biased point of view. The victory is one for right-wing Evangelicals. I can assure you that many, probably most, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Jews, UCC members, and members of other more liberal (and, in fact, mainstream) denominations believe that the Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Court is a disaster for the body politic. NPR needs to learn that “religion” does not mean simply “conservative Christian.” 

I have not yet received a reply.

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