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David Gibson Delivers Insightful Keynote Address at Institute for Communication and Religion’s Spring 2018 Event  

David Gibson Keynote Address Award-winning religion journalist David Gibson spoke "Truth to Power" on campus on April 24. Hosted by the Institute for Communication and Religion, within the College of Communication and the Arts, Gibson followed The Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn as the second renowned speaker hosted by the Institute in its inaugural year.

Gibson, who is the director of Fordham University's Center on Religion and Culture, brought a lifetime of media experience with him to Bethany Hall where he discussed "How Faith Can Get a Fair Hearing in Today’s Media."

Founding Dean Deirdre Yates noted in her introduction that Gibson knows media. He began his journalism career at Vatican Radio in Rome, and has written on religion for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Star-Ledger, The Record and for Catholic publications like America magazine and Commonweal. He has been honored several times as the nation's top religion reporter and is the author and co-author of several acclaimed books, one of which, Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery., was used as a basis for a CNN series of the same name. Gibson also co-wrote and co-produced several other documentaries for CNN and the History Channel and is a frequent television and radio commentator on religion news.

Speaking Truth to PowerMonsignor Dennis Mahon, Ph.D., coordinator of the Institute for Communication and Religion and associate professor, said "in our inaugural event William McGurn discussed how religion is covered in the news. Mr. Gibson's address extended that conversation by explaining the dynamics of the industry in this age of new media. Essentially, Mr. McGurn gave us the how and Mr. Gibson gave us the how to."

Before an audience of University community members and visitors, Gibson delivered the keynote address, "Telling the Old, Old Story in a Brand-New World." In his address, Gibson noted the importance of understanding the media climate as well as the current industry drivers. After the keynote, Gibson engaged in a Q&A discussion with Monsignor Mahon, Dr. Jon Radwan, chair and associate professor, and the audience.

"If people of faith want to get their message out in the media in a regular and fair and accurate way, then we need to understand how the media industry works (or doesn't work) and what's really happening 'in the trenches,'" Gibson shared.

Gibson further noted that although there are challenges to getting a fair hearing for religion in the world of new media, especially with the loss of experience in newsrooms across the country, there are also opportunities for religious communities and institutions.

"For one thing, it's easier than ever to get our message out there, there are more points of entry for writers, more and cheaper means of delivery. The Internet is the great equalizer, a remarkable new and democratic means of leveling the media playing field."  

Many of those in the audience agreed with Gibson about that sentiment. In fact, a live poll conducted prior to the event showed that most participants recommended that religious institutions should invest significantly in social media platforms in order to get a fair hearing in today's media.

Dr. Ki Joo Choi, committee member of the Institute for Communication and Religion and chair and associate professor, moderated the event, which began with presentations by student finalists who participated in the "Tell Your Communication and Religion Story" Student Challenge. Catherine Zizik, committee member of the Institute for Communication and Religion and associate professor, introduced Olivia Klein and Jonathan Thow, members of the Brownson Speech and Debate Team, who performed Angela Kotsonis' "Remixing the Ritual," which emphasized the importance of coexistence amongst different religions. Following the performance, Father Boniface Anusiem, an M.A. in Strategic Communication student, highlighted religion as a form of communication in a short speech.

Launched in Fall 2017, the Institute for Communication and Religion provides a nexus for ongoing scholarly exploration of communication topics critically important to religion and society. Under the leadership of Monsignor Mahon and inspired by Nostra Aetate, the Institute enhances the University's and the College's sustained leadership in fostering open, clear dialogue and study between religious believers and the broader public in the communication disciplines at the theoretical, professional, and practical levels.

Speaking Truth to Power was the Institute's latest initiative. The Institute recently hosted curriculum development workshops, cosponsored Ethically Speaking and The Absence of Healthy Confrontation, and its inaugural event, Speaking Truth: Religion in the News Media, featuring The Wall Street Journal Columnist William McGurn, took place in Fall 2017.

To learn more about the Institute for Communication and Religion, please visit the Institute’s website here.

About the Institute for Communication and Religion 
Launched in Fall 2017, the Institute for Communication and Religion within the College of Communication and the Arts provides a nexus for ongoing scholarly exploration of communication topics critically important to religion and society. Guided by the spirit of ecumenical and interreligious cooperation, the Institute seeks to engage in public dialogue and debate, promote academic inquiry and support the religious dimension of creativity — all while upholding the values of servant leadership, curricular innovation and intellectual excellence. For more information about the ICR, visit the Institute's website or email Jon Radwan, Ph.D., at jon.radwan@shu.edu.

Categories: Faith and Service


Flickr Speaking Truth to Power: How Faith Can Get a Fair Hearing in Today's Media

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View the Full Set on Flickr »

For more information, please contact:

  • Monsignor Dennis Mahon, Ph.D.
  • (973) 275-2794
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