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Veteran religion writer mourns decline in beat

September 15, 2009

The respected and award-winning religion scribe for the Boston Globe has a depressing column about the decline in religion writing. This piece from Michael Paulson comes on the heels of the annual Religion Newswriters Association meeting, this year held in Minneapolis. Those conventions are always a hoot because faith reporters are a decidedly irreverent, hard-drinking, witty band of folks. Was sorry to miss the last two, but mommy duty calls.

Anyway, here’s some of what Paulson had to say:

When I first started covering religion for the Globe nearly a decade ago, the beat was almost trendy; newspapers were beefing up their coverage considerably, religion sections were fat, and a few newspapers, like the Los Angeles Times, had four or more religion writers.

No more. There have been reductions in the number of reporters who write about religion full time at all of the nation’s biggest newspapers, and the religion news beat has disappeared from multiple midsize and smaller papers. The surviving newspaper religion sections are getting smaller.

This is where the Austin American-Statesman stands apart. We never developed a big religion section. We’ve made improvements and changes to it, but our approach was to cover religion as news. And put that news where the rest of the news goes — on A1 or on the front of Metro. I still wrote (and write) columns for a religion page in our Life&Arts section, but the paper sees daily and weekend religion coverage as part of the news mix. And I think that’s where it should be. Makes it easier to have only one religion writer when you don’t have an entire section to fill.

Hat tip: Bob Kinney

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