I was going to post this early in the week (hat tip to reader Larry Rasczak), but the Virginia Tech tragedy and several days of travel got in the way. I am currently in Southern California, after speaking for two days at California Baptist University. Anyway, a hot topic of discussion on this blog, from time to time, is whether it is good or bad for professional religion writers to know a thing or two about religion.
Don't laugh. This is serious.
There is a school of thought in many mainstream newsrooms that anyone who cares enough about religion to bother to learn much about religion is a person who is not dispassionate enough about religion to be allowed to cover religion. Or something like that. If you care enough about religion to want to cover religion well, then you care too much about religion to be allowed to cover religion. Is that better?
Anyway, Rasczak passed along this post from the Democracy Project:
Job Opening (March 15, 2007)
The Associated Press is seeking an experienced journalist to join its reporting staff and cover intelligence issues from the nation's capital.
Coverage areas include the intelligence agencies and Hill committees with oversight. Responsible for aggressive and imaginative pursuit of stories, solid reporting and attractive writing. Must have extensive reporting experience, with demonstrated excellent journalism skills.
Must have demonstrated the ability to develop sources and break stories against intense competition. Prior experience covering intelligence is a plus. Should be versatile, aggressive, productive and enterprising, with a thorough knowledge of the AP and enthusiasm for its mission.
Now, note that the Democracy Project's post critiques the AP for considering knowledge only "a plus."
Heckfire, I think that's progress, when compared with some of the religion-beat war stories that I have heard from experienced, trained, talented, award-winning religion reporters who have been passed over for major jobs in favor of candidates with zippo religion-beat experience or studies of any kind. All of this, once again, calls to mind that 1994 Washington Post religion-beat job posting that said (All together now!) that the "ideal candidate is not necessarily religious nor an expert in religion."
Now, consider the AP notice for that intelligence-beat job. As you read it again, stick "religion" in there wherever you can. That's pretty good. I mean, we at least know that when push came to shove, the AP managed to get the job done right.