The Pew Program on
Religion and the News Media

In December, 1997 the Pew Charitable Trusts awarded the Center an $895,000 grant to fund a program to examine how the broadcast and print media cover the religious dimensions of the news.  In an era when scholars and journalists are increasingly aware of the persistent and multi-dimensional character of religion, this pioneering program was designed to help improve coverage and public understanding by building bridges between academic and journalistic understandings of religion and by fostering new networks of relationships between the academic and journalistic worlds.

Through conferences and publications, the Pew Program on Religion and the News Media addressed not only how religion itself is covered, but also how religious values and issues affect politics, society, and journalism.

The three-and-one-half year program conducted three educational projects for journalists and academics that addressed specific journalistic coverage areas.  By design, the Pew Program focused not on the religion beat per se, but rather on illuminating important--and often poorly understood--religious dimensions of news covered on other beats.

The Center convened three groups of academic specialists to spend a year preparing and then presenting a conference for journalists involved in a particular beat. In 1998-1999 the Pew Program dealt with religion and American politics, in 1999-2000 religion on the foreign desk, and in 2000-2001 religion and urban affairs and social services. Following each of these conferences the Center published the conference essays in book form. 

The Pew Program also supported a thrice-yearly publication called Religion in the News (which is currently receiving ongoing support, beyond the Pew Program grant, from the Pew Charitable Trusts and from the Lilly Endowment).  While the primary audience for Religion in the News is working journalists, particularly editors and news managers, it is intended to interest a wide range of readers, including officials of religious organizations, academics, and others in the non-profit sector.