Regular readers of this blog may recall previous references to the work of Jay Rosen, the New York University journalism professor who is the author of that must-read essay called “Journalism Is Itself a Religion.” Click here to check that out.
Over at his PressThink blog, Rosen has an interesting proposal for the new White House press secretary, a suggestion that might help inject more questions about religion and faith into the mainstream press.
Here’s the gist. Tony Snow runs a big operation, with several assistants who could handle some additional press briefings. What would happen if, with the help of experts from other agencies, Snow and company allowed more reporters, and more kinds of reporters, into the press room? Here’s a glimpse of what Rosen has in mind.
8:00 AM … Televised Briefing in Arabic (For journalists from the Muslim world and the Arabic speaking press. You make the evening news in Cairo and Baghdad that night, and the newspapers the next day.)
9:00 AM … Press Gaggle (On the record, audio-cast, not televised, transcripts by noon; this event exists now.)
10:00 AM … Bloggers Briefing. (It’s like a gaggle for stand alone and citizen journalists who self-publish. Same rules.)
11:00 AM … Q and A with the International Press (With a daily briefing open to all, more foreign news providers will send a person to Washington. Televised, in English.)
12:30 PM … The White House Daily Briefing (Televised, the way it is now. Mainly the American news media, and major foreign providers.)
3:00 PM … All-Faith Briefing. (For the religious press worldwide, same rules as the gaggle.)
Interesting. Thus, I emailed Rosen with a few questions. Primarily, I wanted to know how he was defining “religious press.” I wanted to know who that included and who it did not include. Frankly, I think it might work to have a mix of mainstream religion-beat press blended into a pack of reporters from a spectrum of magazines, religious wire services, websites, networks, etc.
The hard part would be deciding who would be left out. Obviously, Richard Ostling of the Associated Press gets in. Ditto for someone from Catholic News Service and Baptist Press. Ditto for the likes of World and Christianity Today. Is the key question whether someone carries a mainstream press card? That would narrow the field too much.
Rosen wrote back:
Haven’t gotten that far. The idea, though, is to draw people who normally wouldn’t be in the White House press corps into White House briefings, people who cover faith or who cover the world for faith communities and publications.
I think that a “God room” would ask some very different and, in some ways, very tough questions. How would Snow and company avoid doctrinal free-for-alls? I mean, it’s hard enough to avoid those whirlpools here at GetReligion.