Journal of Media and Religion
Fig. 1. Courtesy of the Journal of Media and Religion.

Journal of Media and Religion released its new issue (Vol. 13, Issue 2, 2014). The issue looks at the portrayal of sharia in American network television media, or at how Islam was reported by Pre-Arab Spring English-language Egyptian media.

Jonathon K. Frost & Norman E. Youngblood: Online Religion and Religion Online: Reform Judaism and Web-Based Communication

This study examines the online communication practices of American congregations associated with the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), the governing body of American and Canadian Reform congregations, through a content analysis of 252 American URJ congregational Web sites. Web site content was grouped into two categories, “religion online” and “online religion.” Religion online content promotes the organization and provides organizational information, including information related to organizational identity building, community outreach, and encouraging civic and social action. Online religion content allows the user to engage in spiritual activity via the Internet (Helland, 2000; Farrell, 2011). ANOVA and MANOVA analyses were used to determine significant differences in content based on congregation size. Results revealed larger congregations were more likely to use Web sites for organizational identity building, mobilization of civic and social action, and the practice of “online religion,” lending support to the existence of a size-based digital divide among URJ congregations.

Jennifer Hoewe, Brian J. Bowe & Naheda Makhadmeh: Broadcasting Sharia: American TV News' Illustration of Social Identity and the Emergence of a Threat

Using social identity theory to assess in-group, out-group representations, this study examines the portrayal of sharia in American network television media. A 10-year content analysis showed that ABC, CBS, and NBC continually paired sharia with mentions of the United States, reinforcing its representation as the in-group. These mentions frequently were coupled with mentions of non-Western countries, supporting the idea of an in-group versus out-group comparison. Moreover, the stories included many topics connotatively negative in Western culture. A significant and positive relationship between mentions of non-Western countries and connotatively negative topics was found, reinforcing the positioning of individuals associated with sharia—most often Muslims—within the out-group.

Richard Wolff: The Dean Pike Show: An Examination and Comparative Analysis of Bishop James A. Pike's 1950s Television Program

During the religious revival and television revolution of the 1950s, future Episcopal Bishop James Pike broadcast a live religious television program to a national audience from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, where he was then serving as Dean. By so doing, he joined evangelist Billy Graham and Catholic Bishop Fulton J. Sheen as prominent church leaders of the day hosting their own TV shows. Together, these programs reflected varied strands of the American religious landscape in the 1950s. The article examines Pike's show, which focused on a discussion with guests of critical political, social and ethical issues facing the nation and church. It examines how the program reflected Pike's life-long ministry and identity as a High Church liberal, as well as Reinhold Niebuhr's theology. Further, the article compares the format, approach and content of Pike's show with those of Graham and Sheen, examining how each program's format derived from its featured cleric's theology and approach. It finds that Pike's show was distinctly more political, pragmatic and introspective than those of his fellow TV clerics.

Greg Perreault: “Islam Is Everywhere”: Pre-Arab Spring Coverage of Islam in the English Egyptian Press

This study investigates how Islam is reported by English-language Egyptian media. Much research has examined the orientalism that occurs in the coverage of Islam in the West, but little has occurred on how Islam is covered in a Muslim-majority context. This study conducted interviews with eight journalists who report on Islam as a part of their beat in Egyptian publications and a news framing analysis was performed on articles relating to Islam in English-language Egyptian news sources Al Ahram Weekly, Daily News Egypt, and Al-Masry Al-Youm in the months before Arab Spring radically altered the shape of the country. By applying orientalism, this study hopes to examine coverage of Islam in an environment where one would expect better portrayal of Islam and to examine the ways in which reporting regarding Islam foreshadowed the changes to come.

Sean McCloud: Review of: Fantasy and Belief: Alternative Religions, Popular Narratives and Digital Cultures, by D. Kirby

Jame Schaefer: Review of: Deus in Machina: Religion, Technology, and the Things in Between, by J. Stolow, ed.

Myna German: Review of: Media, Religion and Gender: Key Issues and New Challenges, by M. Lovheim

The latest issue of the Journal of Media and Religion is available here.