Friday, December 12, 2008

Hey Newsweek: It's the Journalism, Stupid

BeliefNet editor-in-chief Steve Waldman--who used to work at Newsweek--has a post reflecting on his own experiences there, as well as what this says about the economics of newsmagazines.
Upshot? "This cover may ultimately become known less for its significance in the culture wars but as a watershed in the history of American journalism."

At Terry Mattingly--a journalism professor who is not exactly a card-carrying member of the Religious Right--writes a letter to Newsweek:
It’s the journalism, stupid.

I know it must be comforting to believe that all of the reaction to the Lisa Miller’s doctrinal essay on your recent cover is about a clash between premodern and modern religious believers. I know that it is comforting to see conservative religious groups post the email addresses of editors, resulting in a barrage of often hateful missives from the straw people who probably stopped reading your magazine a decade or so ago.

But you also need to know that many of your readers would have welcomed a journalistic cover story that provided a lively discussion of this issue, featuring the views of liberal Christian scholars (a variety of them, since their views are not always the same) and traditional Christian scholars from a variety of viewpoints — mainline Protestant, evangelical, Orthodox, Catholic and the like. The views of traditional Jews, Muslims and others would have made a wonderful sidebar.

Stop for a minute and think about this in terms of journalism.
Read the whole thing.