One Story Through Several Lenses December 28, 2008

One Story Through Several Lenses

There’s a story about Humanists seen in several newspapers today — I saw it in the Chicago Tribune — that was first published a week ago.

It’s by reporter Robin Shulman and it’s about how more atheist communities are now forming.

Reporters usually don’t write their own headlines, though, and this can lead to problems.

Dale McGowan, who is quoted in the article, has found a variety of ways newspapers are bending the exact same story to suit their own needs.

… Sometimes the headline is unchanged… but more often, the copy editor or columnist in question has his/her way with the meme, often revealing his/her own biases or intentionally stirring the pot.

Some headlines use the word “communion” or “congregation” — implying that atheists are somehow trying to replicate church.

My favorite headline comes from Covenant News. Take a guess at their point of view.

Dale has the full roundup at his site.

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  • Richard Wade

    There oughta be a law. You know, one like Poe’s Law or Murphy’s Law. This law would say something like: “The more a story about atheists or atheism is passed on and re-told, the more likely it is to show the atheists or atheism in a negative light.”

    If anybody wants to develop that, go ahead but don’t put my name on it, since the law would immediately have its effect on me.

    Slander is eternal.

  • I can just imagine some of the headlines now:

    Godless Heathens Gather In Cult-like Fashion.

    Souls of Children In Jeopardy. Parents To Blame.

    Atheists Gather, Richard Dawkins Fails To Appear.

  • You forgot to mention that most soothing title to one of the stories offered at one of the places you linked to…”The Faggot Deal-Maker & Caroline Kennedy”

    I am glad their are atheists like yourself that remail friendly, because it helps balance out those like me, that are as extreme and angry,(though atheist) as some fundamentalist Christians who want to rid the world of those they see as evil.

    I see it as the fundamentalists as evil.

  • I specially like the Covenant one. Quite “disinformative”. And Tony Miller’s second one (Souls of Children in Jeopardy. Parents to Blame) is great in the same sense.