Media, Hinduism & Buddhism: Mainstream media coverage of Asia’s two major religions

Abhijit Sen

Abstract


After the September 11th attacks on New York city, the American public became acutely aware of Islam and different variations of islam including extremist and radical perspectives. On the contrary, the common man hardly knows anything about Buddhism and Hinduism. Buddhism and Hinduism appear to be totally off the media’s radar except when Tibet is on the news or when some scandal surfaces at the Hare Krishna temple and Hollywood parodies the Indian gurus in their movies. Yet, Hinduism and Buddhism are practiced by a large number of people in Asia and growing exponentially in Europe and in the Americas. The exodus of Tibetans to other parts of the world has contributed to the growing popularity of Tibetan culture and Buddhism. In Taiwan there are more than 200 Buddhist centers and in France more people call themselves Buddhist than Protestant or Jew. The two religions share the same core concepts that include ‘dharma’ (duty), ‘karma’ (one’s actions and consequences) and ‘ahimsa’ (non-violence). Buddhism claims to be the world’s first ‘universal’ philosophy. The teachings of Buddha are understood by Buddhists to be valid and applicable to all mankind regardless of their different historical and social backgrounds. The concept of ‘ahimsa’ is more pronounced in Buddhism and along with the concept of inter-connectedness, Hindu and Buddhist principles have significant potential environmental and ecological implications.
The media by nature is biased towards controversial, violent and conflicting events and situations, thus giving more prominence to Islam than to any other religion. Hinduism and Buddhism being pacifist in outlook hardly get the same exposure as Islam and that too rarely, only if some conflict arises between religious and communal factions as in Hindu-Muslim riots in India and Chinese-Tibetans confrontations in Tibet.
This paper dentifies and analyzes the content of recent news stories dealing with various religions and see the frequency and ‘bias’ of the stories covered by the U.S. cable and TV networks. It is anticipated that the mainstream media would cover the two religions more comprehensively because of the underlying ‘connectedness’ of the two religions to nature and global environment.

Keywords


religion, Hinduism, Buddhism, extremism

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15847/obsOBS622012569