Churches ‘unable to understand’ fundamentals of journalism

Published December 1, 2006

Many church leaders do not understand what journalism is all about, while secular media are often suspicious of religion, says Portuguese journalist Antonio Marujo, the 2006 winner of the John Templeton Prize for European Religion Writer.  

“In the eyes of many church leaders, the media are just a modern form of pulpit. This is one of the biggest misunderstandings,” said Mr. Marujo, religion writer with Publico, a Portuguese daily newspaper, delivering the annual lecture that goes with the prize.

He noted, “As a professional journalist I have to write on religious institutions, of course. But I find it equally important to give exposure to unknown voices, to give voice to humble but significant faith experiences…”

It is the second time that Mr. Marujo has won the prize, administered by the Conference of European Churches on behalf of the U.S.-based John Templeton Foundation, which honours journalists who write about religion in the secular press with accuracy, impartiality and in an ecumenical spirit.  

“The secular media show a great ignorance of and suspicion towards religion,” said Mr. Marujo, who wrote for the weekly Expresso newspaper and the daily Diario de Lisboa before taking up his post with Publico. “On the other hand, religious institutions show a lack of confidence in the media, and seem to be unable to understand the fundamentals of journalism as well as to grasp the challenges of modern information technology.”

Mr. Marujo’s entry for the Templeton prize included a feature story on the Christian meaning of light and an interview with Jose Tolentino Mendonca, a priest, poet and biblical scholar.


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