Journalism and faith

JOURNALISM IS A KIND OF RELIGION. It has central texts, which are fiercely debated. (Are you, or are you not, a believer in “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold”?) It has a set of ethics, which can be flawed. It has rituals and holy impedimenta (each shall have her pencil). It has relics, icons, and spiritual leaders. It has devotees—who, like religious practitioners, may vary widely in approach to their faith, but share a common sense of righteousness. To be a journalist sometimes means to hold one’s editorial principles above all else; it distinguishes certain people in the world, and separates them from the world’s chaos.

And then there’s truth. Journalists love the stuff—claiming, as we do, to possess unique access to its abstractions and its crevices. Every time we tell a story, we create it in our image. Sound familiar? Some journalists, narrative gods that we are, can feel crowded if there’s other divinity around; others are downright repulsed. There are also those driven by faith. Recently, a Catholic staffer at CJR was told by someone at her family’s church that, as a reporter, she was “doing the Lord’s work.” 

In reported pieces, essays, and interviews, we have entered the part of the Venn diagram where journalism and faith intersect. A Muslim reporter, finding that sources want to make his religion the story, decides to examine himself. A Christian radio empire reconciles evangelical morality and Donald Trump in order to guide a political movement. In competing outlets, Jews disagree with one another. Atheists get ignored. 

Matters of faith are among the hardest to resolve—and can be the most fascinating to explore. We hope you’ll take a look as we publish new pieces throughout the week.—The Editors.

The Sin Spinners
By Adam Piore — February 3, 2020

Salem Media champions Jesus Christ, eternal salvation, and Donald Trump, all at once.

Reporting While Muslim
By Zainab Sultan — February 4, 2020

To forge connections, Aymann Ismail makes himself the subject of his journalism

American Atheists’ president on how the media mishandles the nonreligious
By Justin Ray — February 4, 2020

“The media wants a quick answer, like, I believe in this because of my faith.”

What happened to The Forward?
By Mairav Zonszein — February 5, 2020

How America’s Jewish newspaper lost the left

Keeping the Faith
By the Editors — February 6, 2020

A roundtable on how religious journalists think

It’s not misinformation. It’s faith.
By Amanda Darrach — February 7, 2020

Embedding with an anti-vaccination group on What’sApp.


Mister Rogers and the Reformation of Tom Junod
By Stephanie Russell-Kraft — February 7, 2020

“Fred made me think about: Is God good? Does God love us? Is love the basis of creation?”