The other day, while I was meeting with a bunch of Godbeat pros at the Religion Newswriters Association (here and here for pieces of that), it hit me (ouch) that GetReligion is creeping up on the fifth anniversary of the day when Doug LeBlanc clicked "publish" and put the original test site online. Then we posted the official first salvo in the form of a on Feb. 1, 2004, letter to the readers titled "What we do, why we do it." I think that this essay is still worth reading, if you want to know what this site is all about. Here's the opening of that:
Day after day, millions of Americans who frequent pews see ghosts when they pick up their newspapers or turn on television news. They read stories that are important to their lives, yet they seem to catch fleeting glimpses of other characters or other plots between the lines. There seem to be other ideas or influences hiding there.
One minute they are there. The next they are gone. There are ghosts in there, hiding in the ink and the pixels. Something is missing in the basic facts or perhaps most of the key facts are there, yet some are twisted. Perhaps there are sins of omission, rather than commission.
A lot of these ghosts are, well, holy ghosts. They are facts and stories and faces linked to the power of religious faith. Now you see them. Now you don't. In fact, a whole lot of the time you don't get to see them. But that doesn't mean they aren't there.
We're still here, coming up on 4,000 posts and 45,000 comments later. We're still trying to praise the good, in mainstream religion-news coverage, dissect the bad and spot the ghosts.
Readers will want to know that GetReligion is about to go through another round of changes, in terms of the bylines that you will be seeing.
First of all, I am oh so pleased to say that the Rt. Rev. Douglas LeBlanc (yes, the title is honorary) is returning to active duty, as he nears the end of a large-scale writing project -- a book on tithing, title still to be determined, for Thomas Nelson that will be part of that mega-publisher's "Ancient Practices Series." The powers that be are talking about a Feb. 12, 2010, publishing date. Doug will be writing a couple of times a week covering the corner of the news world he knows and loves best -- magazines and online publications.
You will also see a new byline, that of Elizabeth Eisenstadt-Evans. I will let her introduce herself to you tomorrow as she fills in some of the details of her work as both a journalist and as an ordained Anglican minister. The official tmatt tag for her is "EEE." I think that "EZEE" would be a bit much.
What you need to know that she has published a load of columns with the Philadelphia Inquirer and you may have seen her byline at the Washington Post's "On Faith" site, Publisher's Weekly, Christianity Today or elsewhere. She also has media experience at the local level in and around Lancaster, Pa.
Eisenstadt-Evans currently calls Glenmoore, Pa., home, where she is busy working as a freelance writer. Elizabeth's undergraduate degree is in English, from Kirkland College in Clinton, N.Y., and she has master's degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and Rosemont (Pa.) College.
At the same time, one of our regular writers will depart.
Mark Stricherz has taken a full-time job working for the online edition of the Washington Times, which makes him an active staff member at a major publication that we cover day after day. We wish him all the best and, I cannot emphasize this too much, I expect that we will point GetReligion readers towards his excellent commentary work at his own blog from time to time. Please click here to head over to New Catholic Politics and see what he is up to and why.
Meanwhile, the Divine Ms. MZ Hemingway, young master Daniel "out in the Heartland" Pulliam and I will continue doing our thing in pretty much the same fashion as always, although Daniel is really swamped in law school right now and his byline will appear a bit less often.
We are all busy people, but GetReligion is something that we take very seriously, because we really think that mainstream journalists need to "get" religion if they want to understand how the real world works. You, the readers, are a crucial part of this because you keep us on our toes and you help us spot the good, the bad and even the ugly in the media that you consume.
Oh, and please help us look for ghosts.