Call for panelists

The panels for AEJMC 2019 are now set and are described below. If you want to be involved as a panelist, please email Dr. Gregory Perreault and Dr. Mariam Alkazemi by Jan. 15, 2019. Please note that requests cannot be guaranteed because the selections will be negotiated with our co-sponsors. We are committed to ensuring the diversity of panelists this year, as per the request of 2019 AEJMC President Dean Marie Hardin.

Communicating Religion in international contexts: Religious education and its connection with the wider media environment

Panel type: Teaching

Co-sponsors: Religion and Media Interest Group and International Communication Division

Much has been written in the area of religion and media. The majority of the work on this topic has employed cultural, political, ethnographical, and social perspectives in examining the role of media in socio-religious movements. Some literature addresses the (mis) appropriations of mass media by religious leaders, impact of religious media messages on audience members’ beliefs and religious practices, various manifestations of religion in mass media, including motion pictures, music, books, and other artistic forms. Further, scholars have examined various mediums of information and communication technologies employed in transmitting religious messages. This teaching panel, while revisiting and highlighting recent developments in these areas, also aims to explore issues related to communication education and training of religious leaders, media practitioners, and content producers of religious messages in international contexts. This panel therefore aims to validate the need for a formal/semi-formal education and training for religious leaders, media producers and practitioners by identifying the scope and need for such education and evaluating current practices related to expertise, curriculum, delivery formats, and related legal and ethical issues in such training environments.

The Handmaid’s Tale: Identity, Representation & Power

Panel type: Research

Co-sponsors: Religion and Media Interest Group and Cultural and Critical Studies Division


This research panel presents a variety of perspectives on the religio-cultural entertainment drama “The Handmaid’s Tale.” In this panel, research presenters will discuss their findings in regard to the following:

  • Issues of religio-cultural domination and power
  • Issues of gender and sexuality as presented in The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Issues of race and religion as represented in The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Interrogation of the cultural commentary as presented in The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Interrogation of the political commentary as presented in The Handmaid’s Tale

Panelists will be selected through a call distributed by both the Cultural and Critical Studies Division and the Religion and Media Interest Group.

Media Coverage of Hate Speech: Challenges, Responsibilities, and Opportunities

Panel type: Professional Freedom and Responsibility

Co-sponsors: Religion and Media Interest Group and Mass Communication and Society Division


The inalienable right of freedom of speech or expression of ideas is often misconstrued, especially when it becomes offensive, thus hate speech instead of free speech. With the ubiquity of emergent technologies, creating and disseminating hate speech and the consequential violence and crime against the victims becomes easy. So, the burden lies in the rigor of deciphering what constitutes hate speech and free speech. However, there seems to be a lack of consensus in terms of how hate speech is defined among journalists and academics. The prohibition of discrimination, hostility or violence by the law needs to be balanced with the protection of people’s rights of free expression. Often, there comes the ambiguity about where the free expression ends and where the incitement of hostility begins.

Some scholars have suggested censoring hate speech, while others oppose censorship and argue for resisting hate speech with free speech. This panel seeks contributions from scholars and journalism practitioners about their experiences with the coverage of, and navigating through materials that constitute hate speech whether in the political, religious, social, racial or sexual realm. Also, we seek contributions that incorporate theoretical, contextual and ethical approaches to exploring hate speech with regard to professional freedom and responsibility.

Teaching and Reporting on the Intersection of Religion and Sexuality

Panel type: Teaching

Co-sponsors: Religion and Media Interest Group and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer Interest Group


Some of the more sensitive topics that appear in the media involve religion and sexuality. How can we teach and report on the intersection of the two groups in media coverage?

In May of 2018, NPR reported on an Egyptian seeking asylum in Canada for holding a gay pride flag in a picture posted on social media. In 2014, the Calgary Herald reported on protests greeting the decision to open Christian fast food franchise for the chain Chik-Fil-A, based on its stance opposing same-sex marriage. The media can have a powerful impact on religious and sexual minorities, and sometimes there is conflict between religious individuals and LGBTQ individuals. How should these differences be reconciled?

At the same time, certain religious leaders are expressing views that are increasingly supportive of LGBTQ issues. For example, Pope Francis made headlines for telling a gay man that he should love himself because God created him as he is. Similarly, a newspaper article counted eight openly gay imams around the world. Although the media covered these religious elites, there is controversy about the extent to which many religions accept non-heterosexual lifestyles. How should minority perspectives be represented in reporting? To which extent can the conflict be reported to demonstrate changes in the religious landscape while accurately presenting the status quo?

Political Messages in Religious Broadcasting

Panel type: Research

Co-sponsors: Religion and Media Interest Group and Electronic News Division


Some Christian television and radio broadcasters have long aired conservative-leaning political programming. These broadcasters have received new access and relevance in the Trump presidency, leading other typically apolitical religious broadcasters to enter the fray. Political messages from stalwarts of the Religious Right, as well as Christian voices that push back against the church’s association with one party have grown louder and more frequent. This panel will consider the political messaging done by these religious broadcasters, and how the political side of evangelicalism is communicated through media more generally.

In examining the political messages, this panel will also look at some of the factors that have affected religious messages. For example, religious audiences are sometimes studied and analyzed so that political messages can be crafted toward a given religious audience. Furthermore, early religious broadcasters set precedents that can be important in considering their work (e.g. Jerry Falwell was one of the first Christian televangelists in the United States).

This panel welcomes research relevant to this topic that illuminates a further understanding of:

  • The religio-politics of religious broadcasters
  • The history, norms and values of religious broadcasters
  • The development of religious broadcasting into a political entity
  • How evangelicalism is communicated through religious broadcasting
  • How the Trump presidency is communicated through religious broadcasting
  • Characteristics of religious audiences that are considered when religious messages are crafted


Interaction and Conflict of Science and Religion

Panel type: Teaching

Co-sponsors: Religion and Media Interest Group and Communicating Science/Health Risk Division


The debate between science and religion has a long history, and at times it impacts communication about health. The purpose of this teaching panel is on how to prepare students reporting issues that interact between science and religion.

Sometimes, the reporting of science and religion is harmonious. Prophetic figures are often seen as healers, and so religious figures may inspire health practitioners and health communities. This perspective manifests itself in religiously affiliated hospitals, as demonstrated in Missouri with both the Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Christian Hospital in St. Louis.

Other times, religious groups are targeted with misinformation, as demonstrated in a New York Times story about Russian bots spreading misinformation about vaccines. Some religious groups also make headlines because their beliefs about health issues like breastfeeding, circumcision and birth control may conflict with current scientific practices and norms.

The purpose of this proposal is to involve individuals from the Communicating Science, Health, Environment, Risk Division and the Religion and Media Interest Group on a panel that shares various perspectives. Panelists will share their experience with classroom activities and case studies that prepare students to address the challenges of reporting on the conflict between science and religion.


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