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July 01, 2006

Most Christians Consume Some Christian Media, Just Not Much of It

Christian clergy and laypeople tap into a fair amount of Christian media, but it is a minor part of their daily intake, and the mostly commonly accessed Christian media are music and radio (actually music radio). This, according to a new study by Ellison Research.

The study doesn’t reveal anything particularly surprising. Why would Christians, or anyone, rely on Christian media for news and information when Christian media don’t follow the minimal standards for journalism. Exclusively Christian media are advocates, not journalists, with very few exceptions. World magazine and Christianity Today have laudable journalistic standards, and there may be a few others.

So Christians turn to mainstream media for most of their news, and these days they turn more and more to Fox News Channel, talk radio, and the blogs.

There is no such thing as Christian journalism. There is journalism practiced by followers of Christ. And journalistic treatment of the Christian world. And journalism that exhibits Christian virtues. But news reporting and writing that tries to advocate for the faith isn’t journalism, although it may pretend to be.

Ron Sellers, president of Ellison Research, points out that although the numbers for Christian media are limited, they are still great enough to get the attention of the business community, which has begun putting big money into Christian films, books, and music.

“Although Christian media of some type reaches the vast majority of Protestants,” Sellers wrote, “for the average person it still represents a fraction of the media they consume.”

Posted by Jim at July 1, 2006 12:26 AM

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Hey -

I emailed you last week about decency in television and how it pertains to the family. I agree with what you've written here and admire the depth. Think that if more family-friendly options were given to us, that would be good. All of time is limited (raising a family, baseball practice, etc.) so who has the time to look? Have found the internet useful and was surfing over on Salem Network last week and saw a banner for a TiVo product... you have a take on this or have you heard anything about it? Looking for ways to not only monitor what the kids see on tv but also for some help in what is exactly "Family-friendly" - thanks - Marty

Posted by: Marty Brendt at July 3, 2006 01:02 PM


I didn't see the same conclusion you did. I don't think the issue is standards or advocacy. For instance, I would guess that when I listen to radio, I listen to 40% political talk, 40% Christian Music, and 20% secular music. That’s 40% Christian, 60% not. This is similar to the survey (37/63). It says nothing about the quality of the Christian programming. It is excellent. If it were better, I still would only listen about 40%. What it says is that I like to keep up with political issues, and there is a different station for that. I also like a little classic rock now and then. Thankfully, that is on a different station also. So many choices – and they are all good.

It is similar for the other seven types of media, with a few differences. There is a lot of Christian music, but not many Christian movies, etc. Therefore, the percentages go lower. The data does not merit bashing Christians about standards. You are twisting and misinterpreting that data, and I’m not sure why. Their conclusion is much the opposite of yours.

“these figures show what the business community has known for some time – Christian media is big business with a wide reach. “Secular corporations have been backing movies with strong religious themes, buying Christian publishing companies, and releasing albums from Christian artists,” Sellers noted, “and these figures really show why.”

When, on the rare occasion, there is a Christian movie or whatever, it’s huge. With more choices, the percentages will trend upward. This is the trend the business community is seeing.

Posted by: bruce at July 5, 2006 04:32 PM

Great article. In response to Marty's comment about tivo, I have one and i love it. Kidzone is great. We were having a problem with our kids watching bad things when we were away. kidzone has fixed that, AND it does recommend family oriented programs. I love mine, and it sounds like it is what you have been looking for also

Posted by: Melanie at July 10, 2006 04:30 PM