Today is the day! For the next 15 weeks over 30 students and I will explore the ins-and-outs of religion reporting and how to analyze, critique, and comment on religion news.
Such a class, and conversation, is vitally important in this present moment. It is impossible to think about religion without noticing the news. It is impossible to be a journalist without understanding something about religion. Religion is at the center of multiple headlines and news stories the world over. Whether it is politics, personal issues or the palpable effects of religious extremism in the public sphere, religion plays a significant role in the world. To ignore this fact is to do so at our peril. How do we make sense of these stories? How do we critique the coverage or question the approach of the journalists? How could we play an active part in producing and analyzing such news?
These questions will help participants cover the importance of religion reporting in an age of simultaneous religious pluralism and illiteracy and discuss news as a primary portal for knowledge about religion. It aims to give students an opportunity to give voice to why they report on religion, from a personal perspective and familiarize students with the multiple representations and expressions of religion, discussing how we can define religion in a pluralistic age.
Students will also get the chance to know what resources, methods and theories are available for religion newswriting and then to write and publish blogs, articles and analysis pieces for public consumption. This is not a passive class with a theoretical end, but an active class with practical and real-time applications and assignments.
The hope is that students will find value in this course as we attempt to appreciate religious diversity and seek to develop objective religious observation and reporting. All the while, we will not deny real religious differences, nuances in coverage and the need to appreciate local stories in dynamic dialectic with global trends. This will help journalists, or analysts, avoid dogmatism and instead promote reports on the mutually shared human quest to understand the transcendent, share it with the people of the world and do so from a perspective of generous curiosity, humble awe, and equitable scrutiny.
I invite you to take a look at the SYLLABUS for the course and to stay tuned as students post religion news content, analysis, and commentary on our course website, which I will link to on this blog. If you have any questions, comments, or want to "audit" the course let me know!