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Journalists' Attitudes toward New Religious Movements

James T. Richardson and Barend van Driel
Review of Religious Research
Vol. 39, No. 2, Special Issue: Mass Media and Unconventional Religion (Dec., 1997), pp. 116-136
DOI: 10.2307/3512177
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3512177
Page Count: 21
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Journalists' Attitudes toward New Religious Movements
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Abstract

This paper is a follow-up to a large content analysis project of print media coverage of new religious movements (sometimes called "cults"). That research, which has now been replicated both in the U.K. and in Australia by other scholars, showed biases and misinformation in the way certain new religious phenomena were presented, but begged the question of why such differences might exist. This paper reports research carried out in the U.S. on the issue of possible bias and misinformation about new religions among journalists. Of particular note is research with a sample of individual religious newswriters in America who were sent surveys in an effort to ascertain their attitudes toward and experiences with minority religions, as well as toward participants in the "anti-cult movement." Results of the survey show correspondence between earlier findings from the content analysis research, raising questions about the overall objectivity and neutrality of journalists covering the groups. Implications of the findings are discussed.

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