In prepping this piece I took a quick look at CNN's, BBC's, and The Africa Reports' front pages. Here are the religious headlines that caught my eye:
- Did Pope perform miracle?
- 60 seconds in an "atheist church"
- Multiple news stories on al-Dawla al-Islamiyya (ISIS)
- War against Boko Haram nears its end
- Reports of rising anti-semitism in U.S., on college campuses
As part of my wider passion for religious literacy and dedication to helping religion journalists deliver religion news with relevance, fairness, and depth I was recently appointed as one of the newest Board Members serving the Religion Newswriters Association (RNA).
The RNA is the world's only journalism association for people who write about religion in the news media. The RNA offers training and tools to help journalists cover religion with balance, accuracy and insight including a smashing annual conference (Philadelphia, PA - August 27-30, 2015) aimed at informing headlines and networking newswriters; the Reporting on Religion Primer; and Religion Link with fresh, free, story ideas and expertise.
It is exciting times for RNA and the field of religion newswriting. While challenges are plenty with the general decline of print newspapers, there are also new opportunities to be found online and in new venues passionately dedicated to specializing on religion, not just carrying it as a sideshow. We are also finding that the "god beat" is now the regular romp of political columnists, economics experts, and other journalists. This means that the number of interdisciplinary "religion newswriters" is increasing, often finding themselves wearing multiple media hats and transcending print and digital boundaries.
With all this said, sometimes journalists struggle to understand religion, know their resources for reporting on it, fail to apperceive its real-world effects, or appreciate the insiders' point-of-view. As Diane Winston -- the Knight Chair in Media and Religion at USC Annenberg -- recently said, "The next generation of reporters should understand the importance of religion in the daily lives of Americans and learn how ordinary people look for and find meaning, identity, and purpose." I couldn't agree more.
RNA is here to help and I'm humbled, honored, and excited to contribute as a board member in the years to come!