It has been awhile since our own Bobby Ross, Jr., quoted that laugh-to-keep-from-crying tweet by New York Times religion scribe Laurie Goodstein that said (all together now): “Will the last one on the religion beat please turn out the lights?”
Mocking the typical newsroom attitude that three anecdotes equals a valid news trend, Ross asked if it was time for someone to write a story about “why no one wants to cover the religion beat anymore?”
Well, is the issue whether people want to cover religion news or is it that they believe they can personally survive in the changing realities of smaller newsrooms?
To be more precise, what I meant to say is that — in light of the current advertising crisis in the news business — it is understandable that some professionals are questioning whether the religion beat, along with other complicated specialty beats, can thrive in an age of 24/7 journalism, with fewer journalists trying to produce more and more digital news products. There are, of course, many people (see art atop this post) who are convinced that the advertising crisis is going to kill American-model mainstream journalism, period.
On top of this new reality, there is the sad old fact that I stated in The Quill back in 1983:
The major reason few American newspapers and radio and television stations cover religion is simple. Few of the people who decide what news is care about religion.
You might even say that far too many newsroom managers simply do not get religion, or words to that effect.
As the discussion rolled on, Rod “friend of this blog” Dreher posted an item under this blunt headline: “Why Are Newspaper Religion Reporters Quitting?” You need to read all of it, but I would like to respond to a few statements in his post. So, let’s proceed: