Virtual Voices

Gabby Douglas vs. secular journalism

Media

What do reporters know and when do they report it?

It was hard to miss yesterday the Christian beliefs that gave Gabby Douglas the foundation for all the work and concentration that went into her gold medal performance. Interviewed on television directly after her triumph, the gymnast said, "I give all the glory to God. It's kind of a win-win situation. The glory goes up to him and the blessings fall down on me."

Later Douglas tweeted, "Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things He does for me." Earlier in the Olympics she had blogged for ESPN, "Gotta give God the Glory! Thank you everyone for praying for me! It means so much to me!"

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Earlier this summer I asked all-star pitcher R.A. Dickey ("Worship on the Mound," WORLD, July 28) how secular interviewers treat the faith in Christ that he regularly mentions. Dickey said, "Most of the time it will be edited out." So I looked at how some leading secular publications this morning referred to the hard-to-miss faith of Gabby Douglas.

Stories in USA Today and the Los Angeles Times didn't mention it, nor did The New York Times story, but The Times did note that Douglas' mother and the mom of the family she lived with in Iowa "shared religious beliefs." The Times did not specify what those beliefs are.

The Christian Science Monitor also left out what is so important to Douglas, but it did quote her saying "'hard work really does pay off' in the astonished tones of someone who had just bought a Ginsu knife and was shocked to learn that it really can cut tomatoes wafer-thin." Good line.

Reporters are surprised and sometimes shocked to hear that faith in Christ (except among people they think are crazy) makes a difference. When I did a Nexis computerized search of "Gabby Douglas" and "Christian" in publications yesterday and today, only Agence France Presse came up: "Douglas, a devout Christian." No major publication apparently quoted her "glory to God" remarks.

But that makes sense, within standard journalistic understandings. Newspaper space is limited: Why waste it by bringing up something irrelevant, even though the subject of the story benightedly thinks it important?

Here's a video clip of Gabby Douglas at her church in Iowa just prior to her leaving for the London Olympics:

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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