Four years ago, I traveled to Kiev to take part in a gathering of journalists from across Europe, especially Eastern Europe. The reason we made the trip (I went because of my role in The Media Project) to Ukraine was to talk about faith and journalism -- especially the lives of believers who work in mainstream media.
That really wasn't the topic that dominated conversations, both in the hallways and in our formal discussion groups.
Reporter after reporter, editor after editor, talked about the growing number of attempts in their nations to carry on with independent journalism despite the failure of digital advertising programs to deliver the financial goods. The readers were there. The ad-based business model was failing. Everyone was seeking some kind of compromise with the new digital realities.
What was the alternative? People were trying to find ways to hook journalists up to support from non-profit groups, even religious groups, to provide critical financial support for these online projects -- but with few, if any, editorial ties that would bind.
You can probably tell where I am going with this. Every year, I write a column in early April linked to some kind of religion-news centered event or topic. I do this as close as possible to the anniversary of the creation of my weekly "On Religion" syndicated column, which began 28 years ago, this week, with Scripps Howard and then switched to the Universal syndicate.
This year, I wrote about the symbolic and practical importance of the Crux project in online Catholic news, which began with The Boston Globe and just -- after the Globe cut the financial lifelines -- now continues in a partnership with the Knights of Columbus. This was also the topic of this week's "Crossroads" podcast. Click here to tune that in.