2007 Fall Newsletter


Fall 2007
Welcome to the newsletter of the Religion and Media Interest Group of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication!


  1. Editor’s Introduction
  2. The Chair’s Corner
  3. Want your students to get religion? Show it. Don’t Just Tell It.
  4. New RMIG Officers Elected
  5. Submissions sought for Mid-Winter Meeting
  6. Resources

For these articles and more from editor Crystal Y. Lumpkins, keep reading past the jump.

Editor’s Introduction

By Crystal Y. Lumpkins
RMIG Co-Newsletter Editor
University of Kansas

We are well into the fall semester, and many of us are starting to feel the crunch of research deadlines, grade a mountain of papers and projects, or just managing all of the duties that come along with the exciting life of academe. One of the reasons many of us decided to take this career path is to engage with students, yet with so many other obligations the student oftentimes becomes an afterthought. RMIG member Michael Longinow has contributed a thought-provoking piece to this newsletter about how to reach students by moving from our comfort zone to theirs. He encourages the reader to not only be a purveyor of information but a “doer” as well.

This newsletter also details the new 2007-08 offices, upcoming deadlines for paper submissions, and information concerning a free Religion Stylebook. You’ll notice that the fall newsletter is a bit thin. We’d like the spring newsletter to be comprehensive and representative of what’s going on in the industry and encourage you to submit your ideas. Newsletter co-editor Jim Trammell will edit the spring issue, and he welcomes your ideas at jtrammell@sjfc.edu. Look for a call for submission in January of next year. You may also send them to me at lumpkins@ku.edu.

I hope you enjoy the fall newsletter, and I look forward to hearing from you.

The Chair’s Corner

By Ralph Frasca
RMIG Chair

Welcome to another year with your Religion and Media Interest Group.

We are coming off a very successful year last year including some thought-provoking panels and papers at the San Francisco conference. We co-sponsored two very interesting panels: one with SCIGroup on coverage of the Intelligent Design controversy, and another with the Media and Disabilities interest group on Religion, Media and Persons with Disabilities. Both panels featured presenters who were not RMIG members, which allowed us to increase our exposure to other AEJ members.

At our business meeting we voted to have a formal relationship with the Journal of Religion and Media. An RMIG membership will now also include electronic access to the journal, including the newest issues, which are embargoed from many library subscriptions. Our business meeting gave us the chance to honor RMIG founding member Judith Buddenbaum on the occasion of her retirement.

The 2008 convention promises to be a great one as well, with the location in Washington, D.C. If you have contacts in Washington who might make a good person for several RMIG members to join for lunch or dinner one of the days of the convention, please let me know. We are no longer in chip reduction, so we will have a full slate of co-sponsored panels. We are counting on you and your paper submissions, as well.

Do you have friends or colleagues who have an interest in religion and media? Ask them if they are members of RMIG and, if not, encourage them to join.

Want your students to get religion? Show it. Don’t Just Tell It.

Michael A. LonginowBy Michael A. Longinow, Asbury College
Biola University

Somebody once said it’s a sin to bore a kid. I’m not sure I completely agree with that, but I’m ready to suggest we might be hurting the cause of religion in journalism if we don’t get with the program. And the program, if we’re going to get it, involves entertainment. (Boredom might be students’ fault, or it might be ours.)

Before you stop reading, notice how many students from your classes showed up at “Office Parties” when that show (The Office) premiered this season? If you haven’t been using Facebook, MySpace and YouTube in your instruction, your students are probably wondering why. They live there.

And if we want to connect with our students in their understanding of religion in both news and other types of journalism, we need to at least start where students live. The age of requiring them to come where we are – or even inviting them to our intellectual neighborhood – won’t do it anymore. Maybe it never did. John Dewey wasn’t stupid. Neither was Rousseau. Their point, (one they shared anyway), was that students’ minds are activated by the imagination that comes from what their hands are on regularly.

Most students who care about religion in their study of journalism aren’t theologians. They are journalists in the making who live in a world of stories. The wallpaper of their lives is a world of color, music, and cinematic power. The bright side of that is Hollywood’s tendency, in recent years, for putting stories out there that have journalism laced through them, and not all of it the type that makes us cringe.

Take the Daniel Pearl biopic A Mighty Heart as an example. Pearl’s story is a true-to-life journalistic parable. As a moment in the journalistic history of our nation, it’s hard to dwell on. But we do our students a disservice if we act like what happened to him isn’t what embedded and non-embedded reporters and photographers live with everyday. USA Today pointed this out in May when they quoted Asra Nomani, a friend of Pearl’s who taught a seminar at Georgetown on the truth and fictions surrounding Pearl’s death. Her class was set at about the time the film about Pearl debuted in theatres. The film didn’t do well at the box office, but its shelf life as a DVD – much like Shattered Glass – will serve as instructive material for journalism faculty for quite some time.

Do we end with movie clips? No. Do we let movie clips stand alone without discussion? Never. Do movie clips and the fictions of our culture and those of other cultures help springboard our students into discussion about religion in the developed and developing world? Unquestionably.

The hard part about use of Hollywood as our entree to the minds and hearts of students is the whole bridge thing. At some point, we need to escort them back across the canyon from fiction to fact. We all probably know how to do that. We do it in photojournalism. Donna Ferrato has done the Western world an enormous service with her images of domestic violence. We don’t need a movie (though, again, it helps) to get that theme across. But if we do, Ferrato’s book Living With the Enemy is our ticket back home.

Critical as you might be of print news media, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, PBS and other news outlets that tackle religion, mainstream news still stands as the palette we use to paint a picture of religion journalism. But to begin there won’t always get our students interested in the religion that’s deep in the human heart – the stuff that causes us to lose ourselves in something (or someone) greater than even our imagination.

Film, and the interactive networks of our students’ worlds, are another palette we should reserve as an intro to the painting lessons we’ve been doing for so long.

New RMIG Officers Elected

Several individuals were elected to new positions during the AEJMC conference in Washington D.C., and others were re-elected for the same position. Ralph Frasca of Belmont Abbey College was elected as the new head of RMIG, and the Vice Head/Program Chair is David Scott of the University of South Carolina. A complete listing and e-mail addresses are included below.

Head: Ralph Frasca, Belmont Abbey College; ralphfrasca@bac.edu
Vice Head/Program Chair: David Scott, University of South Carolina; david.scott@usc.jour.sc.edu
Research Chair: Paola Banchero, University of Alaska-Anchorage; paola@uaa.alaska.edu
PF&R Chair: Anita Day, Loyola U. of New Orleans; aday@loyno.edu
Teaching Standards Chair: Quint Randle, Bringham Young U.; Quint_Randle@byu.edu
Membership Chair: Dan Stout, University of Nevada-Las Vegas; daniel.stout@unlv.edu
Newsletter Co-Editors: Crystal Lumpkins, University of Kansas; lumpkins@ku.edu
Jim Trammell, St. John Fisher College; <jtrammell@sjfc.edu

Submissions sought for Mid-Winter Meeting

The Religion and Media Interest Group is hoping to participate in the annual Mid-Winter Meeting this year, and we need you and your students to submit work.

The meeting will be hosted by Point Park University in Pittsburgh on Feb. 29 and March 1, 2008. It is traditionally a time for scholars to present work being completed for submission to the major AEJ conference that year. It is student friendly and a nice way to interact with others from AEJ in a smaller environment. The organizers work hard to keep the “on the ground” costs very low. RMIG is looking for submissions and volunteer reviewers.

Here is information from the call:

Paper Submissions

Authors should submit research paper proposals in an approximate 300- to 500-word abstract. The abstracts should give a clear sense of the scope of the research, its relevant hypotheses and/or research questions and the method of inquiry used. Conclusions should be highlighted for works that have been completed by the submission deadline. Do not submit full papers to the paper chairs; abstracts are all that is required in order to be considered for presentation at the Midwinter Conference. However, authors of accepted papers must submit complete research papers, not exceeding 30 pages, to their discussant two weeks prior to the conference. Papers presented at this conference also are eligible for presentation at the national AEJMC convention. Authors are encouraged to use the feedback from reviewers and other Midwinter Conference attendees as they improve upon and finalize works in progress for submission to the national convention.

Panel submissions

Panel organizers should submit proposals indicating the panel title, a description of the session’s focus, the issues to be discussed, and a list of potential or confirmed panelists, including their university or professional affiliation.

Information for Paper Submitters and Panel Organizers

Identify the paper’s author(s) or panel’s organizer(s) on the title page only, and include the mailing address, telephone number and e-mail address of the person to whom inquiries should be addressed. The title should be on the first page of the text and on running heads on each page of text. Send your abstract or proposal as an attachment in a standard word-processing format (preferably Word or RTF). Also, please ensure that you remove any identifying information from your document (with the exception of the title page).

All abstracts and panel proposals must be e-mailed to the appropriate division’s midwinter paper chair (see below) by December 7, 2007. Send abstracts and proposals to Dr. Amanda Sturgill, Amanda_Sturgill@baylor.edu. Please include an e-mail address. Authors will be notified by January 10, 2008 as to the status of their paper.

I hope to see your paper and to see you in Pittsburgh.



Religion Newswriters Association has published a free Religion Stylebook, available to all journalism educators. The 132-page guide includes hundreds of terms from many faiths and is intended to supplement The Associated Press Stylebook. To get copies, email Amy Schiska, Schiska@RNA.org. The stylebook is also online at http://www.religionstylebook.org.


JMR seeks book reviewers. We especially need people who can review books about religion and popular media such as movies and music. If you are interested in reviewing, send an email to Debra Mason at MasonDL@Missouri.edu. Please include your research expertise and methodological specialties.

Dates to Remember

  • Next Newsletter: February 2008
  • Deadline for Summer issue: June 2008
  • AEJMC Deadline for Paper Submission – April 1, 2008

RMIG Web linkhttp://www.rnasecure.org/aejmc/
Other helpful linkshttp://www.religionwriters.com/

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