This just in: "HolyOffice" speaks

galileotrialI am still thoughtfully tugging on my beard as I follow the latest development in the continuing saga of HolyOffice and his alleged links to GetReligion and, well, me. HolyOffice has spoken, over at his LiveJournal (or is it Live_Journal?) blog called The Medicine Box. However, in clearing up one mystery, he has created another. So without delay, here is the man himself in a post called "Can I put a 'pseudo' in front of my LJ handle?"

Apparently, someone got confused because I had Get Religion linked in my LJ profile box, and thought I was identifying myself as a Get Religion affiliate. I am not now, nor have I ever been, linked to the Get Religion Web site. I just really enjoy and read it a lot, and linked to it because I thought other people might be interested. Sorry for the confusion; the link has been removed.

As for getting credit for my work, I unfortunately have to remain anonymous, as I cover religion for a newspaper, and could get in hot water if the bosses knew I was writing this. If you're really curious about my identity, though, just picture me looking like Brad Pitt, but more handsome.

Still, this makes me empathize even more than usual with the writer who called himself Dionysus the Areopagite, but has been dubbed by historians Pseudo-Dionysus. He just wanted to use a pen name! Is that such a crime that we have to label him a "pseudo"? Maybe he worked for a newspaper, too.

So what we have here is another side effect of the technological changes in our era, with the online world affecting life inside and outside many newsrooms (and other offices, too).

Some newspapers want reporters to blog and some do not. But what happens when a reporter who is writing hard news on the job suddenly evolves into a fountain of personal opinion online? This blurs the line, obviously, between news writing and editorial writing. When I was at the Rocky Mountain News, I was a reporter who was also a columnist -- a combination of duties that existed on other beats, as well. The editor who hired me said he assigned journalists that kind of dual role if he thought they could handle it.

Now, in the age of blogging, all kinds of people are doing hard news reporting in print and opinion writing online. The Religion Newswriters Association offers a small collection of links to blogs by religion-beat reporters and by those who watch them -- sites such as GetReligion and The Revealer.

The four writers here at GetReligion fall into two different categories. Doug LeBlanc (semi-retired from blogging at the moment) is a former mainstream religion writer who has worked in various publications and media roles, including advocacy work in the Anglican Communion wars. That's why he tends to avoid Anglican issues on this blog or, if he does, goes out of his way to note his link to the story. I have, since 1991, been a professor who is also a columnist, working outside a newsroom. Nevertheless, I keep my Scripps Howard New Service editors briefed on what I'm up to in my academic work. As you can see in their bios, Daniel and Mollie are mainstream journalists who, in their newsroom jobs, work on beats that are not related to their GetReligion work. However, both have strong views about religion and about journalism and this blog is a place where they can say what they want to say. Again, however, their editors know what they're doing.

What happens when a hard-news beat reporter also has a blog on the same topic? You can see that happening across the pond, where religion-beat veteran Ruth Gledhill of The Times -- producing a European brand of journalism -- writes waves of news stories about the Anglican Communion and then, elsewhere, writes about her own connections to the stories that she is writing. When is she a reporter and when is she a columnist? In the European model of the press, that is not as big of an issue (unless sources on one side of a story ignore you). Yes, editors make the final call.

Meanwhile, HolyOffice says he is a mainstream religion writer (who looks like Brad Pitt) who has an anonymous blog. Personally, I don't think there is any need for anyone to try to "out" him. It also appears that his blog already has some GetReligion readers. Hurrah. We hope they keep visiting this site and letting us know what they think.

Our goal, from the beginning, has been to produce a blog for journalists who cover the religion beat or who are interested in writing about religion news as part of their other work in journalism. This is an advocacy site for improved religion coverage in the mainstream press, with our primary emphasis being on accurate hard-news reporting. The four of us openly discuss our own beliefs here, for the sake of clarity, but we strive to keep the emphasis on journalism.

We welcome feedback from journalists and people who love journalism. We are anxious to add new information and to make corrections, when we make mistakes.

I will end with this note to HolyOffice: Feel free to restore the GetReligion link to your online profile. We appreciate the support. Thanks for reading, and please keep writing. You are, as Southerners would say, funny as all get out.

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