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.