'We hear you, and now we are reaching out to you'

religionnewspaperSt. Louis Post-Dispatch religion writer Tim Townsend announced some welcome news yesterday:

Today, the Post-Dispatch introduces three new elements on our Saturday religion page and stltoday.com: more events, photos from readers and a column focusing on faith.

When it comes to religion events listings, readers tell us the more the better. We hear you.

Wow. A newspaper that cares what its readers want. It's almost like it wants to make money or something. The addition of the column is interesting. It is no exaggeration to say that Terry Mattingly's religion reporting and religion column in the Rocky Mountain News sparked my interest in a journalism career. I wonder if so many reporters are obsessed solely with politics because so many media outlets limit their news to political news or news with political angles. I think this one-note-samba ends up perpetuating the narrow focus and perspective of media outlets.

Anyway, Townsend explains what his column will tackle:

Religion is a part of life (for some it's a bigger part than others) that bumps up against so many other parts. I imagined stories about religion and sports, religion and business, religion and politics, religion and law, religion and entertainment. The list goes on and on.

This column won't be an opinion column. In fact, if you become a regular reader of "Keep the Faith," this is likely to be the last time you see "I" outside of a quote. "Keep the Faith" will look and feel like a news story, but with more analysis and interpretation.

He explains that the name of the column comes not from the Bon Jovi song and album but because the expression has the same informality he's aiming for in his column. I hope with the additional space he's getting he'll cover some more of the interesting stories coming out of my church body, the Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod, headquartered right there in St. Louis.

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