Joe Carter: From GetReligion reader to scribe

Having been a reader and fan of GetReligion, I’m thrilled and honored to be joining as a contributor. Although I’ve been reading this site since its inception in 2004, my interest in the intersection of religion and journalism extends back a long, long time — maybe even back to the dark era before Terry Mattingly had a syndicated column.

As a high school student in the late 1980s, I applied for an internship at my hometown paper, The Clarksville Times. “This isn’t a news article, this is an editorial,” said the managing editor after seeing my first submission, “and only editors get to write editorials.”

I knew then I wanted to be an editor. What better job could there be than to write opinion pieces and criticize reporters?

My ambitions were delayed, though, by a 15-year hitch in the Marines. Soon after I worked as a writer, columnist and editor for a couple of daily Texas newspapers. For a short time, I even co-owned a small regional newspaper (The East Texas Tribune) before waking up to the frightening realization that I was a co-owner of a small regional newspaper.

After that I took a series of more stable communications-related jobs. I worked for a think-tank (Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity) and even a presidential campaign (Mike Huckabee for president) before returning to editing, first as the managing editor for the now-defunct webzine Culture11, a start-up (Daily Dish salute here) with the late David Kuo, and then as the online editor for the religious journal First Things.

Currently, I serve as a senior editor for the Acton Institute, an editor for The Gospel Coalition, and an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College, that famous liberal arts college that is linked to the home-schooling world.

I’ve been interested in religion even longer than journalism. Growing up in Texas, my family attended almost every type of Protestant church, from Pentecostal, to Methodist, to Presbyterian. These days, I consider myself a Southern Baptist even though I attend a non-denominational church near my home in Ashburn, Virginia.

Here at GetReligion, I’m particularly interested in examining (think of it as the Sarah Pulliam Bailey chair) how the media covers the diverse, broad, confusing world of Evangelicalism (whatever that word means). I look forward to the opportunity to point out how journalists often get it right when it comes to Evangelicals or, on what I’m sure will be rare occasions, noted what the mainstream press get wrong.

Print Friendly
  • Dan Crawford

    Apparently, Get Religion believes that no one to the left of Ronald Reagan has any interest in religious journalism?

  • tmatt

    Several non-Republicans on the site, including me. We are, however, traditional on moral and religious issues — but united in being pro-journalism.

    You need to check out that link to The Daily Dish salute to Joe’s earlier project with David Kuo, who was no one’s Republican flunkie.

    Oh, and we are not interested in “religious journalism.” We’re about journalism that focuses on religion.

  • Richard Mounts

    Welcom, Mr. Carter.

    Your reports on well written news articles that have a religion theme (ghostly or overt) are eagerly awaited. Regarding rare poor journalism in such articles–from your lips to God’s ear.

    Tmatt, kuos. Well and politely said.

  • Jerry

    Welcome, Joe.

  • http://www.wistly.net Carson Chittom

    Out of pure, unabashed nosiness, is there a story as to why you left the Corps when you could have stayed in five more years, retired, and THEN gone to work as a writer?

  • Sarah Pulliam Bailey

    The Sarah Pulliam Bailey chair! I’m honored to think such a thing might exist. Welcome to GR, Joe. Good luck keeping up with all the emails from tmatt.

    • Bobby Ross Jr.

      Good luck indeed on the e-mails! :-) And welcome.

  • Joe Carter

    Thanks, Jerry and Richard. I appreciate the kind words. And thanks, Sarah, it’s an honor to fill in for you.

    Carson: ***Out of pure, unabashed nosiness, is there a story as to why you left the Corps when you could have stayed in five more years, retired, and THEN gone to work as a writer?***

    I hate to admit it, but the story of why I left the Corps five years till retirement is rather nerdy: I was reading a book on economics and had an epiphany about sunk costs and opportunity costs. I had never intended to retire from the military (I had only planned to serve four years and then move on) but after I ended up staying in for 10 years it seemed almost like I *had* to stay till 20. But then it dawned on me that I was favoring the sunk costs (15 years) over the opportunity costs (the happiness of having a job I enjoyed), so I ignored everyone that told me I was crazy and moved on to new ventures.

    Since then, there hasn’t been a single day that I regretted the decision. I loved the Corps but it was time to move on. And I doubt I’d be writing for GetReligion now if I had stayed in those five extra years, since that would have set me back five years in my career.

  • Mark Baddeley

    Hi Joe,

    Welcome along and looking forward to reading your contributions to GetReligion. Particularly since taking a quick swing by TGC’s website and reading a number of your more recent productions there.

  • http://www.twitter.com/johncfarrier John Farrier

    Congratulations on the new gig, Joe. I’ve read you in various fora for years and look forward to seeing your new work here.

    I hate to admit it, but the story of why I left the Corps five years till retirement is rather nerdy: I was reading a book on economics and had an epiphany about sunk costs and opportunity costs.

    The libertarian writer Harry Browne called this the “Previous Investment Trap.” He said, “In every case, the question is: With what you have now, what is the best way to use that to get the most in the future?”

  • Dan Crawford

    As one who is also “traditional on faith and morals” and interested in “journalism that focuses on religion”, I read very little criticism on this site of right-of-center media outlets. I share your dislike of the wretched biases of the NY Times and Washington Post, but having seen equally egregious problems with Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, I would hope that these too might be dealt with.

  • Joe Carter

    ***I read very little criticism on this site of right-of-center media outlets***

    I’m all for balanced criticism, so I’ll be keeping an eye on right-of-center outlets. If you notice a story that we’ve missed , please send it to us using this form: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/getreligion/contact/

  • tmatt

    Fox? Basically wire service on religion.

    WSJ? The big issue is FIREWALLS, which make blogging really hard.

    But send us URLs folks. We love the input.

  • Frank Lockwood

    Joe,
    I look forward to reading your posts.

  • David Roseberry

    I’m disappointed that you didn’t arrange your resume in a list of 33 things. (I miss those lists!)

    Welcome!

  • FW Ken

    Mr. Carter,

    Never heard of you. But that’s true of all these folks who write here, and now I think the world of them. And I’ve been cynical about the news media for longer than some of them have been alive.

    So welcome. I look forward to reading your stuff.

  • Pingback: In post-denominational age, what’s in a church name?


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X