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Survey studies Lations and religion

A recent study was released on Latinos and their religion by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Hispanic Center. The study had a lot to say about where, how and why Latinos worship, and how that affects their views on social and political issues.

This article is a good example of how numbers can be used to the advantage of a journalist. The story here is in the percentages and the numbers. There is no current breaking news on this issue, besides the fact that the survey was released this week.

The AP reporter Eric Gorski wrote an article about the survey. Kim Vo of the San Jose Mercury News did her own reporting, and presumably her own number crunching on this story.

Gorski’s story summarized the findings of the story quite well, though it seems as though he used the same wording as the study, that is ambiguous, such as “ charismatic style of Christianity.? He also wrote about the intersection of ethnicity and religion, that the study looked at. He choose to focus on the ethnicity aspect over the religious aspect. He wrote more about how churches and church leaders were dealing with the new congregants. He didn’t quote any “everyday Joes,? only leaders and experts.

His use of numbers varied. Sometimes he threw a bunch of percentages at the reader all at once, which is informative but sometimes a bit much, leaving the comparison to be made by us. Sometimes he quantified them for us, making the numbers relatable, and these were easier to digest.

Vo took a different approach. She choose to contrast the Roman Catholicism with evangelical Protestantism. She too used the words “charismatic worship,? though after both articles, I’m still unclear as to what exactly that means.

After a few introductory paragraphs summarizing the story, she listed some key findings of the study. I think this is an effective way to get the information out there directly, instead of burying it in the article. It’s easy to get the jist of the article very quickly.

I like the comparisons that she drew between the two religions and how she spelled out what this meant for social and political issues.

The failure of both these articles lies in their dealings with the topics of ethnicity and its effect on religion. I think they relied too heavily on stereotypes, letting the reader draw conclusions through our own biases—for instance what charismatic worship means. It’s hard to escape our own biases, and these stereotypes make it much easier to communicate with the reader. However, the result is a perpetuation of these stereotypes and shallow reporting.


Comments

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