Reflection on Writing About Faith and Friction

BY AMANDA SOTO      

Journalism is not the best way to tell stories about faith and friction. To me, the most complex topic to write about is religion, as there is no way to pinpoint the exact truth of what someone believes in. Religion is not black and white; it isn’t even gray. To explain how someone feels is one thing, but to try and encompass all that they believe in is another.

Journalism itself is like a religion, as there are certain tenets we must uphold every time we write a story. These include staying objective and not being biased. When these tenets conflict with what we are trying to write about and with one another, journalism can no longer be applied.

It can be hard to stay objective when you feel a certain attachment to a story or issue. An example of this was in Ireland when we discussed the Ryan Report. As journalists, we know that there are two sides to every story and the truth is somewhere in the middle. How could you even care what the Catholic Church had to say when you can hear the voices and accounts of abuse from the victims?

Another example is when Caroline Brothers spoke about her experience covering clandestine immigrants for the International Herald Tribune. How she spoke about the topic told us that she was compassionate toward the people she wrote about, attached to the topic and a borderline activist for their cause.

Riazat Butt, a religious reporter for The Guardian, said, “Religion is under reported, and what is reported is superficial.” This is because it is a very complex topic. Even she didn’t know the ins and outs of every religion and is still trying to understand.

As religious reporter for the BBC, Robert Piggott said we must also question the validity of what people are telling us when it comes to reporting religious news. I think the best tools to tell stories of faith and friction are through pictures and the accounts of people involved. Human interest and feature stories suit this topic best. The human element of a story about something you can’t see (faith) is what brings the viewer into the story. I also think that some images are so powerful that words can’t describe them.

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