The Global Faith and Media Index is the first-of-its-kind study examining the perception of religious faith as depicted by the media. Introducing the results, Dritan Nesho, Global CEO of HarrisX, provided a detailed overview of the survey results and explained that it reveals a strong demand across the world for more news media coverage on faith. Opening a panel discussion, Mara Schiavocampo, Emmy Award-Winning Journalist, asked a series of questions to each panelist.
Kourosh Ziabari, Journalist & Correspondent for the Asia Times, explained how in repressive countries like Iran, religion is mandated and its depiction is tied to what the government decides. In the west, according to Simran Singh, Executive Director, Religion and Society Program, Aspen Institute, we do not have enough representation. Some stories are simply not told. For Linus Idahosa, Chief Executive Officer of Del-York International, the stories we tell to our young people are crucial, particularly in Africa where so much of the population is under 30.
Achieving religious diversity in the media will take reporters listening to more people in religions other than our own, said Alissa Wilkinson, Senior Culture Reporter at Vox. We need to think not in terms of clicks but about subject matter experts. There is an appetite for stories about faith, noted Davis Smith, CEO at Cotopaxi. There are many stories to tell but it will take a good team and effort towards showing diversity. He said he sees his faith as integrally connected to his work, and leadership can come from a place of faith.
David Miller, Professor & Director of the Princeton Faith and Work Initiative at Princeton University, noted that there is a strong business model for producing religious content, with a massive potential audience and few competitors. Ana Mims, Founder & CEO at Ana Mims, LLC, explained that we need to learn how to speak about this subject and with each other about our beliefs.
Bringing the discussion back around to the survey findings themselves, Brooke Zaugg, Vice President of The Faith & Media Initiative, said that they are trying to broker collaborative conversations between governments and religious practitioners. Nesho concluded with the hope that these findings help to foster a conversation.
“In several parts of Africa what you would find is a very deep understanding about faith, a love for something that is beyond you.”
Linus Idahosa, Chief Executive Officer, Del-York International
“Businesses need to make money to survive but they also need to provide goods and services to the world.”
David Miller, Professor and Director of Princeton Faith and Work Initiative, Princeton University
“Our words have power.”
Ana Mims, Founder & CEO, Ana Mims, LLC
“What was surprising was the degree of acknowledgment that this is an issue.”
Dritan Nesho, Global CEO, HarrisX
“Many would argue that the mainstream media reinforces this East-West civilizational divide.”
Mara Schiavocampo, Emmy Award-Winning Journalist
“Those in power are the ones considered normative, who have the power to tell the stories, and therefore the ones who we see.”
Simran Singh, Executive Director, Religion and Society Program, Aspen Institute
“One of the aspects of diversity that I think really matters is religious diversity as well.”
Davis Smith, CEO, Cotopaxi
“Many times what we find is that the people who are in the positions of power don’t see the bubble that they’re in.”
Alissa Wilkinson, Senior Culture Reporter, Vox
“Both religious institutions and media institutions are incredibly valuable to society.”
Brooke Zaugg, Vice President, The Faith & Media Initiative
“One of the mistakes that we sometimes make in actually understanding communities of faith is that we consider them as monoliths.”
Kourosh Ziabari, Journalist and Correspondent, Asia Times