At an assembly of Protestant editors earlier this year, the chairman asked for a show of hands to determine how many had college journalism training. About 10 per cent responded. “All young fellows,” the chairman observed.
Neglect of education in Christian journalism is probably one of the key factors behind the somewhat inferior character of the contemporary Protestant press. No evangelical college in the United States has as much as a department of journalism. Only a handful of texts deal with religious journalism, and gaps abound.
It is only to be expected, therefore, that not a single religious periodical has enough popular appeal to be available on the average U. S. newsstand. Even the current religious boom has failed to achieve such a breakthrough. No one seems to be able (or willing) to put the Christian message into a context that would sustain the interest of a mass reading audience.
Evangelical publications in North America circulate almost exclusively within the evangelical constituency. They assume no appreciable evangelistic role in secular society. Their language and format confine their success for the most part to the evangelical sphere. Creativity is scarce.
By design or otherwise, a great number of religious periodicals operate virtually at the mercy of special interests represented by advertisers or publishers. Super-commercial orientation and provincial editorial policies make for a vapid publication. “Puffs” for advertisers ultimately backfire because the reader-consumer eventually recognizes them as editorial payola.
Some denominational papers tend to deteriorate to the house organ status. Even large circulations may be attributed less to quality content than to high-pressure promotional campaigns which ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more