Some journalists ignore it until it pounces at them. Others pursue it like a skilled hunter. For some, it’s a full-time job. For others, it’s an occasional factor in the occasional story. For all, it’s a powerful force that can enhance coverage of almost any topic. However you came to report about religion in the mainstream media, you’re in the right place. You may be a newcomer to the religion beat, a student or a veteran journalist who keeps encountering religion in stories. You may work in print, broadcast, radio or on the Web. This booklet will guide you through the basics of reporting on religion, pointing you to important resources and considerations and warning you about potential pitfalls. It will help ease your way into what many of us think is the best beat in the business.
We also hope this booklet convinces you that religion can enrich your stories by explaining people’s motivations and providing details that can transform run-of-the-mill reports into surprising or provocative narratives. Religion shapes people’s actions and reactions in very private and very public ways across the range of news and features. Without it, you’re often not getting the whole story.
Religion journalism — like journalism in general — is undergoing seismic shifts because of changes in the news business as well as changes in society. To keep this guide from being outdated as quickly as yesterday’s news, it resides on the Web on the Religion Newswriters’ home page, www.RNA.org. Check there for updates and for the Religion Newswriters’ Resource Library, which offers extensive resources for religion reporting.
“Reporting on Religion: A Primer on Journalism’s Best Beat” is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.
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- The basics
- Best practices
- A roundup of religions
- The Big Three: Christianity, Judaism and Islam
- Beyond the big three
- New Religious Movements
- Visiting places of worship
- Religion outside the box
- Issues for reporters and editors
- About Religion Newswriters