"In truth, this is insightful analysis of religion reporting. . . . Vecsey understands both the day-to-day realities of the
news business in the time period he examines and the nuances of faith and practice."—Cecile Holmes, University of South Carolina
"Vecsey puts the New York Times on the analyst’s couch in a way that few have done before. His method is thorough and his conclusions are compelling. This is a tour de force!"—Ari L. Goldman, Columbia University
"Vecsey provides fresh insight to a long debate over the quality of the New York Times religion coverage. The heightened attention to the religious repercussions of the 9/11 attacks is his primary focus, especially its treatment of Islam, but his scope broadens to a review of how faith traditions have been viewed by the Times for decades before that disaster."—Kenneth A. Briggs, Lafayette College
Following 9/11 examines the religious ramifications of 9/11 and its aftershocks through the lens of the New York Times. After the attacks occurred, the Times turned to its standards of journalistic comprehension and its institutional memory regarding religious phenomena to grasp the news with customary tools of coverage. The events made good copy, surely, but also uncovered persistent themes in the treatment of religion in the newspaper.
Day in, day out, the New York Times is one of the most important news sources for understanding the contemporary world. Drawing from the paper’s articles, Vecsey compiles an encyclopedic record of religion in our day. Analysis of religion coverage in the Times, focusing on 9/11 and its upshots, shows not only how the paper reported on the tragedy and its consequences, but also how it presented its conventional religious themes—traditions, diversity, tolerance, institutional organization, interfaith cooperation, ethical judgment, etc.—in the crucible of the crisis, perhaps the most galvanizing event concerning contemporary religion.
9/11 was a political as well as a religious event, and it becomes evident—by probing Times coverage—how religion and politics have particularly defined one another since 2001. Vecsey draws attention to the volatile public phrases “culture wars” and “clash of civilizations” to perceive the ways in which 9/11 crystallized and recast those concepts, so important in understanding the political dimensions of religion over the past decade. For years after 2001, in stories related to the tragedy, the Times moved beyond political coverage to the social, the cultural, the artistic, the intellectual, and especially the religious. Above all, however, the paper showed how religion, politics, and journalism define each other in these times following 9/11.
Christopher Vecsey is Harry Emerson Fosdick Professor of the Humanities and Religion at Colgate University. He has written extensively on religion in America and on the culture and religion of Native Americans.
6 x 9, 492 pages