From BBC to silence in a convent, plus blunt words on religion news from another BBC pro

It's time to go deep, deep into my GetReligion folder of guilt, which is the name I pinned long ago on my email file where I stash pieces that I keep meaning to write, but other developments get in the way. However, this BBC-related piece now has an updated hook for a lede.

So, how many national-level journalists do you know who have decided to walk away from the newsroom and become a nun? This offering from The Belfast Telegraph is not, in other words, a run-of-the-mill headline: "Ex-BBC reporter Martina Purdy receives her veil in rite." And the top of the report:

Former BBC broadcaster turned nun Martina Purdy and one-time family barrister Elaine Kelly have taken a big step forward on their spiritual journeys
The former political correspondent and her friend received their veils yesterday in a ceremony at the Adoration Convent on Belfast's Falls Road. Her decision last year to swap a high-flying media career for the contemplative life sparked surprise and much comment.

So after 25 years in journalism, Purdy joined the Adoration Sisters, an order best known for its work baking altar bread -- work that is done in complete silence. This passage struck me as especially interesting:

"Only the Lord could call a chatterbox to a life of silence, but He does love irony."
Although she had been raised and educated a Catholic, faith was not always the driving force in her life, Ms Purdy said. But gradually her passion for journalism ebbed because her love for God left no room for the material world.

No room for the material world. Those are sobering words for those of us who are working, mainstream journalists and religious believers. Do you think your GetReligionistas would welcome a chance to chat with Sister Martina? That would be a big "yes."

Most of the time, of course, this website deals with the other side of this equation -- focusing on journalists who struggle to see the vast world of faith as part of the real world, the world of news.

This brings me to a piece from The Guardian that has been in that guilt file for several months. Let's start with the bracing language right up front:

The presenter of Radio 4’s Feedback programme has attacked national newspapers and television for failing to “power up” coverage of religious belief at a time when faith is playing a role in driving genocide and war.

Roger Bolton, who presents the show tackling comments and queries about the BBC, said instead that the “reverse had happened” at a Media Society debate on religious literacy called The Root of All Evil? ... He said the Times’s decision in May last year to dispense with religious affairs correspondent Ruth Gledhill, who had been in the role for 27 years, was “a classic example of withdrawal”.

The BBC still had not appointed a religious affairs editor, on a par with science, business and politics, which he proposed in 2010, he added.

Ah, but has the best coverage of religion news moved away from traditional newsrooms and into cyberspace? Is it time to kill the Godbeat and to focus more and more energy on getting newsroom staffs AS A WHOLE to take religion seriously? How about both?

Read it all. Lots of questions, but few answers.

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