Last week we talked about the Godbeat losing both the Associated Press' Eric Gorski and the Boston Globe's Michael Paulson. Before that it was Peter Steinfels at the New York Times. And now we get word that Cathleen Falsani's religion column at the Chicago Sun-Times, the last of which was to run January 22, has ended already. Apparently her editor there forbade her to even mention that she'd be leaving in her last two columns, and that was a dealbreaker for her.
She's posted her penultimate column here.
In a note to Poynter's Romenesko earlier, she wrote:
I left the Sun-Times staff as reporter a couple of years ago to concentrate on books, etc., but I've continued on as the religion columnist. That ended yesterday. I was told by Don Hayner, the editor-in-chief and the man who hired me 10 years ago, that it was a budgetary and space issue. Now the paper has no religion reporter (that's been the case for about a year) and no religion columnist.
This turn of events was not entirely unexpected. I saw the writing on the wall last week when there was no room in the physical paper for my Friday column so they ran it online only.
I had an extraordinary run at the Sun-Times and am so grateful for the opportunities -- professional and personal (I doubt we'd have our son were it not for the paper: see http://vascosheart.blogspot.com) but I'm sad for the religion beat and do hope to find a new newspaper home for my column.
Indeed. These are interesting times for the religion beat. As Christianity Today's Ted Olsen joked, "Last one on religion beat please turn out the lights!" He did find a bright side, too -- all of these departures will certainly mean less predictable Religion Newswriter Association awards.