Steve's Newsroom Blog: News coverage includes faith & spiritual issues

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - I'm going to give you a glimpse "behind the scenes" of WLOX-TV during this week's blog.

I enjoy talking to fans of WLOX News whenever I'm out and about in South Mississippi. Unlike radio news (where I worked for 12 years), I am recognized in public and approached by viewers of the TV news.

That can be fun, for the most part, and I truly enjoy talking with folks at area restaurants, the mall, church and other public places. People will sometimes comment on stories I've done or give me suggestions for future stories.

But it seems that most of the public has more of an interest in the personal lives or "behind the scenes" information about our reporters and news anchors. I find that most interesting in meeting with people.

I've often been asked questions like, "What's Jeff Lawson really like?" or "Why did so-and-so change her hairstyle?" or "Tell Rhonda I really liked that outfit."

I'm pleased that people feel a certain personal connection with the news team here at WLOX.  It's nice to be almost part of their extended family, or so it seems.

Since this is Holy Week for Christians, I thought it might be appropriate to share some thoughts about faith and spirituality within the local newsroom.

Too often I feel, we get lumped in with the national media. The general stereotype is that the "media" is far left leaning and certainly not people of faith.

But that practice of lumping all the media (national/regional/local) into one generalized pot, can be misleading and often flat out untrue.

I can tell you that we have a variety of faiths, denominations, beliefs and varying levels of spirituality within our newsroom. And, like most any other workplace in South Mississippi, we represent quite a variety when it comes to faith.

We meet every morning at 9am to discuss what stories we'll likely cover any given day.  I'm not going to name names. That's not the point and I believe that one's faith is a personal issue. My intent, however, is to dispel any notion you might have that the news media is "godless" or that "faith and spirituality" have no bearing on the lives of those who bring you the news.

During our typical morning meeting, the following faiths and/or denominations are usually present at the table: Roman Catholic, United Methodist, Southern Baptist, Judaism and non-denominational Christian.

We certainly don't ignore stories that deal with faith and spirituality, as is sometimes the charge against the national news media.

We understand and appreciate the significance that religion and faith represent among the general population here in South Mississippi. To put is simply:  Faith is too big a subject to ignore considering our audience.

WLOX News has covered countless church openings, revivals, pastor farewells, church and synagogue ground breakings, special celebrations of faith and various events that are related to faith and spirituality.

Do we cover them all? Of course not.  Nor could we cover every education story or every housing story.

We must prioritize and choose what is worthy of our attention and coverage. But you can rest assured that faith and religion and spirituality are not left out of the mix.

We conduct viewer surveys from time to time.  The profile of our typical viewer offers evidence of the important role faith plays among the vast majority of South Mississippi folks.  Attending church and bible reading are frequent habits of most viewers.

Like I said, faith is a personal thing.  I don't mind telling you that I'm a Christian who was raised Roman Catholic and became a United Methodist.  Faith is an integral part of my life. And that life includes my working as a news reporter at WLOX.

I'm proud to say, during this Easter time, that my TV station's newsroom has a well rounded representation of faiths and beliefs. And we take care to cover those stories of faith and spirituality that are significant to so many of our viewers.

©2009 WLOX. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.