The Orthodox Church - July/August 1997

Orthodoxy faces media bias, expert contends

FT. LAUDERDALE, FL — Dr. Nikolas Gvosdev, Director of the Justinian Centre here, reports that "negative bias in coverage of the Orthodox world has not abated in the Western media."

Dr. Gvosdev's comments are reported in the July 1997 issue of Orthodoxy Watch, one of the Centre's publications.
An example of media bias, notes Dr. Gvosdev, may be detected in coverage of the 1996 election of His Eminence, Archbishop Spyridon to head the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

"US News and World Report described the Orthodox Church as a 'sect,' while the Economist caricatured the Ecumenical Patriarchate's bishops in America as politicians and lobbyists for the government of Greece," he says. "Complaints raised by the Orthodox community in America of bias in the media, however, appear to have fallen upon deaf ears."

Dr. Gvosdev distinguishes between honest reporting and bias, noting that negative news coverage is not in and of itself evidence of bias, which he continues "is revealed when a particular group is held to a different standard than the one applied to others."

"When we discuss bias in news reports concerning the Orthodox Church, we are responding to what we believe is evidence that the Orthodox Church is being held by media organizations to different standards than those applied to coverage of other religious organizations," Dr. Gvosdev states.

With regard to the sources of bias against the Orthodox Church, Dr. Gvosdev cites two concerns. One is the "millennium-old prejudice in Western culture against the Orthodox world." The other is ignorance about the Orthodox Church.

"Orthodox in America bear some responsibility for this situation, by not making more of an effort to raise the consciousness of the American public," Dr. Gvosdev notes. "Orthodox Americans cannot expect these deep-seated stereotypes to disappear overnight. Until the Orthodox organize, as other communities have, to fight for fair and unbiased coverage and to combat prejudice and stereotypes, [bias] is likely to go on uncorrected."

[ The Orthodox Church - July/August 1997 - p. 11 ]