Journalist Peggy Wehmeyer may be gone from ABC News, but North America still has one full-time religion reporter on network television—in Canada.
Last summer the private broadcaster CTV, a division of Bell Globemedia, appointed Mark Schneider, a 53-year-old Jewish journalist, as the anchor for Horizons. The program is a weekly segment about spirituality and ethics broadcast during the network's evening newscast.
Kirk Lapointe, senior vice president for news, championed Schneider's appointment. Lapointe says the new beat on spirituality and ethics is an answer to "a longstanding complaint of mine that, when it comes to religion, the media just doesn't get it."
For Gordon Legge, director of the Center for Faith and Media in Calgary, Alberta, the appointment could not have come at a better time. "The tragic events of September 11 have made us aware of religious tensions around the world and the important role the media plays in helping us interpret these events wisely . …Schneider's appointment can help us understand religious differences better and help us achieve greater tolerance."
Joyce Smith, who teaches journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto, sounds a note of caution. "I hope he is given a chance to explore … big issues," Smith says. "He will need to resist calls from editors to pursue only soft stories, or 'wacko' stories from the edges of religion."
Schneider, who says he has a deep interest in Buddhism, sees his job as a chance to redeem his 26-year journalism career.
"For years, I practiced a very toxic, vandalistic form of TV journalism, full of anger, aggression, and indifference to all consequences except to my own career," he says. "Part of my healing now has been to see my role as a journalist quite ...1