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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Some signs the networks really get it

CBS News President Andrew Heyward is quoted by AP, saying this of the emerging media landscape:

"I think it's important to look at this as in increasingly sumptuous smorgasbord of choices, and Fox started that." Heyward said. "It's very different from the comfortable oligopoly that prevailed at the beginning of broadcast news, where you had networks with enormous market share. I think that's to the public benefit. It puts more pressure on us to be excellent."

That's easy to say, but actually changing an ingrained newsroom culture is one of the toughest challenges anybody can accept. Taking religion seriously as a legitimate newsbeat is a great place to start. When we see the networks addressing topics like the following, we will see genuine progress at ABC, CBS and NBC:

* On any given Sunday, the majority of Americans are in church or otherwise involved in a religious activity. Why do they keep going back? How does their faith and church affect the way they live the rest of the week? What kinds of ministries are they involved with? And how about an interview with Journalism Prof. Marvin Olasky of the University of Texas discussing how the Protestant Reformation made contemporary journalism possible?

* On any given day of the week, there are thousands of Americans living overseas as missionaries, oftentimes risking their lives to spread the Gospel and doing countless acts of service helping the poor, the oppressed and the sick in every virtually country of the world. Some, like "Prayer of Jabez" author Bruce Wilkinson, have given up property and position here to do things like minister to Africa's AIDS victims. Just for starters, let's see a "60 Minutes" segment that lets folks like Wilkinson explain what motivates them and a "Dateline" analysis of the incredible impact of the life and death of Jim Elliot.

* On any given issue involving science - like evolution vs creation - there are legions of profoundly inteligent and articulate men and women of faith who are also deeply involved in the most arcane and advanced branches of scientific inquiry. Real courage in this would be shown by airing the Discovery Institute's "Unlocking the Mystery of Life" and then allowing a debate among critics and advocates of that documentary's case for intelligent design based on proofs from bio-chemistry.

With just a little thought and some serious face-time with people like FamilyLife's Dennis Rainey, Ron Blue of "Master Your Money" fame and "Purpose-Driven Life" author Rick Warren will yield an abundant harvest of additional story ideas.

Now, how about some suggestions from the Blogosphere for stories in other areas of public policy and life that would be signs the networks are getting it?