Theology Thursdays: Black Newspapers Need To Get Some 'ligion by DL Foster
Go ahead, don't be skurred.
Take a look here and here. While you're looking, peek at this and be sure to also look at this. Now since you are one heckuva an intelligent person, tell me, what's the common denominator? Amen! Praise Jesus, you guessed right! Black newspapers have backslidden in the religion department.
According to the Pew Research Center the numbers are astounding. More than seven-in-ten women (71%) cite religion as very important, compared to 55% of men. The racial divide is even larger -- religion is considered very important by 85% of blacks, compared to 61% of whites.
African Americans say church life and activities are central to their lives and community. However, reading some black newspapers you would never know that. In fact, based on some of the papers, you wouldn't know that churches even existed in the black community. Is the minimalization of black religious life intentional?
Although The Atlanta Inquirer has been at the pulse of the nation's most celebrated black community with its ubercelebrated black churches for almost 50 years, it has no religion section at all. The paper says that it has 61,000 paid subscribers, but that "nearly a quarter of a million other Atlantans depend on the Atlanta Inquirer for the type of news, information and editorial opinion these readers cannot find in any other publication."
Well that's simply not true. The Inquirer, as well as the 26 other cloned papers of the National National Newspapers Association's listed roster post the exact same feed. Frequently, what you will find is that the news is so old, it gives you an impression that the presses have broken. Plus, you really can get the news elsewhere. Are black papers losing or have they lost their revelance in black life? NNPA claims to have over 200 newpapers whose readership has a buying power of $572 billion dollars. I find that a strange translation, considering that the demographics of the readership are 54% female.
In his book High Impact African American Churches, famed pollster George Barna said, "The black community has traditionally been the people group that has been strongest in its involvement in the Christian faith and lifestyle." Yet, the NNPA and its feeder outlets have neglected this powerful demographic. What you will see prominently displayed is the article on executed murderer Tookie Williams. It got top billing. I wonder how many church ladies read that one and wept?
There's nothing I like better than to pick up or log onto a black newspaper site and read really good commentary, reporting and see reflections of what's happening in my community. Black newspapers should ensure that for those of us in the community who want to see our houses of worship and their activities, the religion pages has something in the pews. While I realize that budgets are tight everywhere, there's always creative ways to get volunteers to report religious news.
Hopefully, the NNPA hasn't decided that religious life in the black community is not worth reporting on anymore. That would be a tragedy.
DL Foster is an "ordinary guy serving and extraordinary God." Visit his blog, "Perspectives In Motion." Comments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, January 12, 2006