Last night's story by News 2's "religion and ethics" reporter, Jamey Tucker, on football players who pray only confirms my sense that he is bent on producing stories that make News 2 look more like Pat Robertson's 700 Club. Mr. Tucker seems less interested in reporting objectively and fairly on religious movements in Middle Tennessee; even though there are many opportunities to study religion here and probably more chances to excavate little-known, unpopular religious undercurrents.
Tucker could have done a very interesting story, interviewing individual players and consulting religious leaders from different persuasions on the matter. Instead, his "report" was a pander piece that merely 1) noted that some players pray (not news), 2) asked why they pray (I don't need News 2 in order to ask that), and 3) provided the answer via a single source: conservative Christian sports agent Kyle Rote, Jr., who gave his idea of theologically correct things players should pray for, which sounded like a daily devotional. Smattered throughout Mr. Tucker's report were matter-of-fact references to what "scripture" teaches and to "God" as if those theological terms were transparent to all and not matters of different interpretations.
My guess is that players pray for a lot of different things, and they may not always be consistent with Mr. Rote's or Mr. Tucker's ideas of theological correctness. But Mr. Tucker's rah-rah piece was obviously not meant to educate or inform. It was more like a synoptic infomercial for conservative evangelicalism, which is consistent with other stories he's done for broadcast news (he previously produced subject-promotional stories on a faith-based home schoolers basketball tournament and a conservative Christian book convention). This is exactly why Mr. Tucker's story did not tell us much of anything new about why players pray and the different responses that people have to that. It was just too busy being a promotional ad for conservative groups (like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes?) to be a serious piece of informative journalism.
It has been said that a critical element of ethical journalism is to report the news in such a way that viewers are not able to discern one's ideological positions. From what I have seen of Jamey Tucker's reports, I cannot say that I am unable to discern his theological bias; that bias becomes more apparent to me the more stories I see coming from him. That bias may help News 2 from falling victim to economic threats from conservative cross-sections of their viewing audience, but it does nothing to change the perceptions of Christians like me that New 2 religion reporting generally tells us little or nothing one cannot already learn from surfing evangelical websites and bulletin boards.