Nets Give 10th Anniversary of iPhone Nearly 5 Minutes, Ignore 500th Anniversary of Reformation

Millions of Christians around the globe including world leaders like Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, celebrated and remembered the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Even secular news outlets acknowledged that Luther and the Reformation helped “lay the foundations for the modern world,” “contributed to the expansion of literacy” and more.

The reformation may be viewed primarily as a religious event, but it also had far-ranging impact on world history (and England’s independence from Europe), including politics, philosophy, education and more.

For all of those reasons it merited serious news coverage, and got it from local and national publications including The Washington Post, New York Times, USA Today, Time and more. But not from ABC, CBS and NBC. The Post gave the entire front page of the Oct. 29, Outlook section to essays about related to Luther and the Reformation.

The broadcast networks didn’t acknowledge the historic moment at all that day, on morning or evening news programs on Oct. 31. Two of those networks, considered the 10th anniversary iPhone important enough to devote a combined 4 minutes and 54 seconds to the updated Apple smartphone the day they should have marked the Reformation anniversary.

Today enthusiastically teased the iPhone segment twice and then its hosts clamored just to touch the iPhone X on Oct. 31. Both Today and CBS This Morning asked several questions of their technology correspondents showing off the phone.

“We have Apple’s tenth anniversary iPhone, everybody is excited about it,” Today’s Orange Room host Carson Daly said as he turned the segment over to tech expert Katie Linendoll to go over the gadget. Following Linendoll’s rundown, Daly said “Al, You’re salivating. I know you gotta get in on the pre-order.”

Al Roker responded, “I’m about to explode. Let’s see it.”

Linendoll crossed to the anchor desk where Roker, Savannah Guthrie, Matt Lauer and Hoda Kotb passed it around while gushing, “Wow” and “Look at that.” Roker stealthily slipped the phone into his pocket after Linendoll said she remembered “Lauer stole my iPhone one year.” Roker appeared to return it though.

While trendy and popular, the latest Apple phone is far-less significant than the Protestant Reformation.

Reformation Day is designated as Oct. 31, because on that day in 1517 German monk Martin Luther is said to have posted his 95 Theses — critical of certain Catholic doctrines of the time — on a church door in Wittenberg, Germany.

Before the Reformation, church services and Bibles were conducted in Latin although most people couldn’t understand or read it. Luther’s criticism eventually led to the translation of the Bible into common people’s languages like German and English, inspired many others after him and led to the creation of numerous protestant denomination and countless churches.

USA Today Network published a story on Oct. 31, explaining the significance of Martin Luther’s act on world history and why even non-religious people should care.

Citing religion professor Derek Nelson of Wabash College, USA Today wrote: “[B]eyond inspiring Protestantism and helping to spark the Reformation, Luther’s work led to the creation of public education because schooling prior to him was largely done at monasteries, which quickly lost favor, and Luther among others encouraged princes to support schools that led to the modern public education systems ...”

The article also noted, that Luther “helped to popularize the idea that faith can help people connect to their neighbor, not just God,” and reminded readers that many people still embrace his teachings, especially about scripture and justification by faith alone.

Between Jan. 1, 2017, and Oct 30, 2017, ahead of the anniversary, a Nexis search for reformation or Protestant Reformation or Martin Luther yielded only a single broadcast mention that 2017 would be the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. That one mention was from May 25, 2017, CBS This Morning.


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Julia A. Seymour's picture