Wallis Calls Bush Plan 'Criminal'
4. Dallas Morning News closes its award-winning religion section
The paper's award-winning section, much praised by Christianity Today and others, is disappearing as religion coverage "will move to the Metro section." It's a move that's widely seen as a cutback in religion coverage, though staff cutbacks happened quite some time ago.
The section "was topical, well-written and compellingly designed and won the top prize for best section from the Religion Newswriters Association five out of six years running," notes Lakeland (Fla.) Ledger religion editor Cary McMullen. "It was the zenith, the gold standard of what specialized reporting on religion in a secular newspaper could be."
News editor Bob Mong says the specialized reporting won't go away. "Our emphasis on religion's going to be strong," he told the local alternative paper. "It'll be different, but it'll be good. We just didn't get any advertising support for it. The core writers we have for it will continue to be there, and the amount of space we devote will be adequate for what we need, and it will let us do more Page One stories. As far as the devotion to the topic, it's important to me, and we're going to take it very seriously. It'll just be in a slightly different format." (Jeff Weiss and Sam Hodges will stay on the beat; religion editor Bruce Tomaso is being reassigned as his position is eliminated.)
For many papers, Religion Newswriters Association executive director Debra Mason said in an organizational newsletter, "the Dallas news is ho-hum. That's because hundreds of daily newspapers do not and never have had religion sections. Instead, religion news is integrated throughout the paper." There may be a lesson about format, but this is not "the beginning of the end for the religion beat. We should not confuse religion sections with religion news as a whole. If Dallas couldn't make money from its religion section, few others will be able to, either. No editor in the country staked more of his heart or reputation on religion coverage than Bob Mong. He fought hard for the section and continues to be a religion news champion."
Mason says she's more disheartened by the news that The Wichita Eagle has laid off religion editor Tom Schaeferand that this is the latest in several newspaper religion cutbacks.
If you're sad about the Dallas Morning News, though, be of good cheer. The paper's religion blog is becoming a must-read. Reporters for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Chicago Sun-Times, Colorado Springs Gazette, London Times, The Oregonian, Mobile Press-Register, Greensboro News-Record, and other newspapers also have really good official and unofficial blogs that should be in your bookmarks or blog readers if you like the CT Weblog.
5. Who funds the National Council of Churches?
Back in 1983, the Institute on Religion and Democracy helped Reader's Digest ask the question, "Do You Know Where Your Church Offerings Go?" The article charged that the National Council of Churches "supports Marxist-Leninist movements in the Third World" both through advocacy and direct funds. This week, the organization looked at the flow of money into the NCC. "Mostly liberal foundations are donating as much if not more than the member churches that the NCC is supposed to be representing," the organization says. The NCC responds chiefly by noting that IRD is largely funded by conservative foundations. Get Religion's Mollie Hemingway asks:
Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
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