PEW: Religion in the News 2010

Islam the No. 1 Media Topic

Events and controversies related to Islam dominated U.S. press coverage of religion in 2010, bumping the Catholic Church from the top spot, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Much of the coverage focused on the plan to build a mosque and Islamic center near ground zero in New York City, a Florida pastor’s threat to organize a public burning of the Koran and commemorations of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Stories related to these three events collectively accounted for more than 40% of all religion-related coverage studied in mainstream U.S. media (broadcast and cable television, newspapers, radio and major news websites).

Mainstream media devoted more attention to religion in 2010 than in any year since the Pew Research Center began measuring coverage of religion and other subjects in 2007. The amount of space or time media devoted to religion doubled between 2009 and 2010, going from about 1% of total coverage to 2%. And for the first time since tracking began in 2007, neither the Catholic Church nor religion’s role in American politics were the No. 1 topic of religion coverage in major news outlets.

BBC supports Islam and attacks Christianity, says ex-presenter

Don Maclean, who hosted Good Morning Sunday for 16 years, claimed that the corporation is biased against Christianity and had embarked on a movement to “secularise the country”. “They’re keen on Islam, they’re keen on programmes that attack the Christian church,” he said and added that programming chiefs were keen to take a “negative angle at every opportunity” in a way they do not with other faiths like Islam.

This comes after the BBC has appointed Muslim broadcaster Aaqil Ahmed as BBC’s head of religious programmes. He is the first Muslim and only the second non-Christian in this role, and the decision was criticised by church officials, who complain that “Christians are now only depicted as ‘freak shows'”. The BBC has defended the decision saying that Mr Ahmed was “the best candidate for this new role” and that it is “BBC policy to recruit on the basis of experience and suitability to the post, not on the basis of faith or any other criteria”.