More personnel changes on the Godbeat

More personnel changes on the Godbeat September 24, 2013

Here at GetReligion, we don’t generally report the news. We critique media coverage of the news.

But when significant developments occur among Godbeat pros, we try to share that information with our faithful readers. That’s because we believe that it matters who’s covering the religion beat — and who isn’t.

Lately, we’ve had a number of these inside baseball developments to pass along, including the departures of three Godbeat stars: Bob Smietana from The Tennessean, Ann Rodgers from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Tim Townsend from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 

Our posts prompted the Poynter Institute, the  journalism think tank, to report on the state of the Godbeat (including confirming that The Oregonian laid off its religion and ethics writer, Nancy Haught). Poynter’s story, in turn, inspired more reflection at GetReligion, which drew Rod “friend of this blog” Dreher into the discussion over at The American Conservative. And Dreher’s column, of course, gave us a reason to consider that age-old question, “Do religious leaders really want quality religion coverage?”

OK, is everybody caught up now? Because the roller-coaster ride continues.

In a few of the posts mentioned above, we noted that Cathy Lynn Grossman, longtime religion writer for USA Today, took a buyout earlier this year. If USA Today has hired someone to fill Grossman’s post, we don’t know about it. But we can tell you where Grossman landed.

Many thanks to RNS for letting us know personally about Grossman’s new gig:

Meanwhile, another religion writer at a major newspaper — Rose French of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune — is leaving the Godbeat.

Poynter reports:

Rose French and Brad Schrade, husband and wife, are leaving for jobs at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Schrade — along with Jeremy Olson and Glenn Howatt — won a 2013 Pulitzer for their series of reports on the increase in infant deaths at daycare homes in Minnesota.

French will join the Atlanta newspaper’s education team as an enterprise reporter. In a memo cited by Poynter, Star-Tribune managing editor Rene Sanchez said:

On the religion beat, Rose has found a range of illuminating stories around the metro area on that subject, one so important in the lives of many of our readers. Her reporting on the Catholic Church’s role in the state’s great debate over same-sex marriage also helped keep us ahead of the news.

French covered the religion beat for seven years: four at The Associated Press in Nashville and the last three at the Star-Tribune. She told me she’ll miss the religion beat but is looking forward to a new challenge.

And in the wake of the news about French came more personnel fodder from the Godbeat:



Jasper has accepted a position in media relations with Georgia Regents University.

“The timing is almost certainly a coincidence,” she told me when I asked about all the recent departures from the Godbeat. “The trend, maybe not.”

I liked her response when I asked what she’ll miss most about covering religion:

What will I miss the most? Church potlucks. (Kidding, mostly.)

There’s so much to miss. It’s a passionate group of people who write and follow religion news. And as you know, you meet wonderful folks along the way who are quick to extend an invite into some of the most intimate and personal experiences of their lives. It’s a unique privilege, and I’ve never experienced anything quite like it on the other beats I’ve covered.

I’m headed to the Religion Newswriters Association national conference in Austin, Texas, later this week. I suspect that I’ll hear a little more discussion about this subject.

Stay tuned.

Image via Shutterstock 


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5 responses to “More personnel changes on the Godbeat”

  1. “I’m headed to the Religion Newswriters Association national conference in Austin, Texas, later this week. I suspect that I’ll hear a little more discussion about this subject.”

    Way to go out on a limb, big guy. I think this is the safest prediction, ever.

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