“Are Zimbabwean journalists looking for sensationalism only when they cover activities of religious newsmakers?” I asked myself this question once again during a religious jourmalism conference at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv that I recently attended.
A special guest of the event was CNN’s senior Vatican analyst and the senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter John L. Allen Jr., who described the global media coverage of the church as the ‘perfect storm.’ This is partly because the media establishment does not have time to get into detail when breaking the news, while religious institutions (Allen spoke about the Roman Catholic Church) are not always trained to deal with the media to avoid misunderstanding.
Also, there is a tendency among church officials to shy away from reporters, when it would be better to come up with a well-thought explanation.
Is this what we also see in Zimbabwe? I wouldn’t say that religious leaders here are withholding information from the media. However, some major Pentecostal leaders in this country prove to be quite reluctant to deal with journalists. Or it may well be the case that the media outlets are to blame, by single-mindedly pursuing ‘hot’ topics like a prophet’s new car or a socks sale instead of searching for material worthy of deeper analysis.