Does the Catholic-Christian faith receive the depth of coverage it deserves on TV?
According to a well-known TV priest it does not.
Fr. Edward Beck, CM, ‘Religion and Faith Commentator’ for CNN, writes in a thoughtful commentary for Crux that it’s not anti-Catholic bias, “…my experience of working in the secular media has been largely positive. I have never been told what to say or asked to slant my perspective. While I have witnessed anti-Catholic bias in the media, personally I’ve not been a victim of it.”
Beck sees the issue in the time old approach employed by television news executives and producers: a lack of complexity and depth in news culture and coverage.
Fr. Edward Beck, CM –
My primary gripe about the secular media is that often it overlooks the nuance and applicability of religion and faith in the public sphere. The media is engaged as long as there is a compelling enough figure such as Francis, or some cataclysmic ecclesial event, to garner interest, but it lacks the imagination to explore the more nuanced tentacles of religion in society.
When I try to interest television producers in covering aspects of faith and religion in areas such as politics, incarceration, global warming, international aggression, terrorism and world economics, they are slow to be convinced of a relevant faith connection. This despite a recent Pew survey that ‘shows a clear link between what people see as essential to their faith and their self-reported day-to-day behavior.’
So, where can Catholics go on TV for discussion that allows for complexity? The answer is Catholic media.
In my April 1st posting I discussed the future of EWTN, and mentioned that many younger Catholics in the U.S. are seeking out Salt and Light Television from Canada online.
Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB founding Chief Executive Officer of Salt and Light Television, and has developed programming that is orthodox, engaging, and fresh.
Bishop Robert E. Barron, Auxiliary Bishop Archdiocese of Los Angeles (image courtesy of: patheos.com)
Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron founder of Word on Fire, a global media ministry, is another voice in Catholic broadcasting that offers both complexity and nuance in his presentation. Pope Francis obviously approves of his work because Bishop Barron (a priest from the Archdiocese of Chicago) was chosen to be an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
It is no coincidence that Bishop Barron was sent to the entertainment capital of the U.S. It would be safe to assume that in addition to his own media ministry, Bishop Barron will be interacting with the people who move the media culture in particular directions. He will be a strong Catholic voice in Hollywood.
Getting a fair shake on TV is a challenge that all faith traditions face. The medium has helped to develop the “3-second attention span” that defines U.S. culture.
Complexity, depth, and nuance are not things that translate to TV. For that Catholics must look for media that originates from the Church.