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Journal Article

Sensational Scientology!: The Church of Scientology and Australian Tabloid Television

Bernard Doherty
Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions
Vol. 17, No. 3 (Feb., 2014), pp. 38-63
DOI: 10.1525/nr.2014.17.3.38
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/nr.2014.17.3.38
Page Count: 26
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Sensational Scientology!
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Abstract

The role of communications and information media long has been acknowledged as a key factor in religious controversy. Since the 1970s “cult wars,” new religions scholars have focused considerable attention on how the media communicate, influence and frame public perception of new religious movements. In this article, I briefly survey ways in which constant changes in communications media and consumption require scholars to reassess interaction between the media and new religious movements. Using as a test-case the Church of Scientology’s interaction with Australian “tabloid television” programs in a series of heavily publicized controversies, I outline some traditional journalistic practices and media constraints, identified by scholars, in television coverage of Scientology in Australia. I will introduce a series of additional practices and contingent factors dealing specifically with tabloid television which may assist scholars in assessing the complex relationship between the media and new religions.

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