At yesterday’s event with David Niose, he spoke about a Pledge of Allegiance lawsuit in Massachusetts, and someone from the audience asked him about press coverage. Niose noted that the Boston press is quite liberal, and they don’t seem to have any particular problem with atheism, but that big atheist stories are still rarely covered.
He used Jessica Ahlquist’s lawsuit and harassment as an example. Despite covering a lot of Rhode Island news, the Boston press didn’t find it newsworthy when someone received torrents of hate and abuse for standing up to their community. More impressively, they didn’t find it newsworthy when a lawmaker called a young activist an “evil little thing”.
As an identity movement (as Niose explicitly identified the secular movement), we need visibility. We are easier to demonize and easier to abuse when no one is looking at us. That means we need a friendlier, more knowledgeable press.
The good news is that there is work underway to make this happen. From Teresa MacBain:
I have a great opportunity to be a part of the “Meet the Freethinkers” panel at the upcoming Religion Newswriters Conference in Austin, TX. Representatives from the movement will present the broad range of freethought to a large number of reporters who cover religion. This is a first of it’s kind event and I’m honored to participate.
I’m asking for your assistance in funding my trip. Your donations will be used to secure the following:
Thank you for supporting me in this adventure.
Teresa is an excellent choice to represent freethinkers at this event. Onstage, she speaks eloquently to what our community looks like at its best. Offstage, she is warm, charming, and accustomed to answering even the most ridiculous questions gracefully.
Of course, she does it all on a nonprofit salary. So if we want someone like Teresa representing us to the religion press and sharing with them the kind of newsworthy stories we have to tell, we need to help her. I’ve given some. She’s almost halfway to her goal. Let’s get her the rest of the way there.