Shameless plug for Godbeat friend

beliefblog2The world cannot have enough blogs about religion news, as far as I am concerned.

So I am happy to announce that veteran religion-beat specialist Julia Duin of The Washington Times has opened up shop online. She has had a personal homepage and blog for some time (if you are interested in parenting and conditions in Kazakhstan, check that out), and now she will be adding content to her newspaper work at the new BeliefBlog. I do have a style question: Is there a space between “Belief” and “Blog” in that title or not?

Duin opens the door with a reference — a Godbeat classic — to a comparision that the late George Cornell of the Associated Press used to make. It’s simple. Count the number of people who worship every weekend and the money they donate to religious causes and institutions. Then count the number of people attending sporting events every weekend and the dollars they spend. Compare the two, then count the number of journalists assigned to each of these subjects. It’s not a fair fight. Duin adds:

Not only is religion big business, it’s big news, which is why we felt it was about time this newspaper premiered a religion blog. It’s not the first to do so in the secular media. About 30 outlets are ahead of us on this one. But, better late than …

Today, Dec. 3, is an appropriate launch date for BeliefBlog, one day after the first Sunday in Advent and one day before Hanukkah. We did some mulling over the title and decided for alliteration and simplicity (although I do think one editor’s suggestion of “Papal Bull” could have attracted attention a lot quicker.)

I plan to make this stand out amongst many of the current faith blogs, many of which are little more than daily religion digests with uplinks. Not here. I’m aiming at something closer to Ruth Gledhill’s “Articles of Faith” blog blog in the London Times that has juicy details not in the dead tree version.

In other words, more of a commentary blog on news events, as opposed to a running digest and commentary on religion-news coverage (like, well, GetReligion).

So welcome to cyberspace. Any other nominations out there for new Godbeat blogs to add to the essentials list?

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Michael

    Since the American model of objective journalism is different from the British model, I wonder whether Duin can take the Gledhill approach and still be viewed as objective. Gledhill has a clear bias–but so does her newspaper–so it’s easier to get away with “juicy details not in the dead tree version.” But can that be done in the U.S? That’s an ethical question facing a lot of newspapers as they turn supposedly objective reporters into bloggers who are slugging it out in the blogosphere.

    Duin is successful at being fairly objective while writing for a newspaper that wears its ideology on its sleeve, even on the news pages. In that sense, maybe the Gledhill model can work since one assumes the newspaper already has a specific point of view.

  • Julia Duin

    Merci beaucoup to GetReligion for your kind words. In answer to your question, BeliefBlog is one word. Victor Morton, the brilliant editor on national desk who catches my mistakes, suggested “Encyclicals” as a blog title, which I really liked. But all the non-Catholics in the newsroom looked blank when I suggested that one. “Is that a cross between an encyclopedia and a popsicle?” one asked.
    I’m not going to be commenting on religion news coverage cuz I can’t compete with y’all. But analysis and background I can do. Michael’s question is a fair one altho there are several folks at the competition across town who double as reporters and columnists and no one questions their integrity. For the record tho, the Powers That Be here understandably don’t want me registering my personal opinion on topics I cover as hard news.

  • Victor Morton

    Whosoever doth not call her blog “Encyclicals” and so deny the necessity of definitive teaching authority in religion matters … anathema sit.