This may sound like a strange question, but, trust me, there is a good reason to ask it: Are there any GetReligion readers out there who would be interested in visiting the University of Wisconsin at Madison in mid-March?
Why is that? Well, because of a March 14th conference with this title: "Reporting on Religion: Media, Belief, and Public Life." Click here, pronto, for all of the details. Here is the overture on the home page for the event:
America’s religious landscape is shifting, and, as a result, news coverage of religion has never been more important. “Reporting on Religion: Media, Belief, and Public Life” will give journalists and the general public an opportunity to explore one of the most important, sensitive, and controversial topics in contemporary America.
The one-day conference will feature journalists and scholars who will help participants gain a deeper understanding of the role religion plays in public life and how religion is -- and isn’t -- represented in the news media today.
The conference will culminate in a keynote address, free and open to the public, by television journalist David Gregory, former moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press and the author of How’s Your Faith? An Unlikely Spiritual Journey.
Glance over the packed program for that day (click here) and you will see many other names familiar to GetReligion readers, beginning with our own James Davis, in the panel called, "How the Press Covers Religion and Spirituality." Other familiar names on the docket include Cathy Lynn Grossman, Jaweed Kaleem, Bob Smietana, Dilshad Ali and Tony Carnes. Other presentations focus on work challenges in the newsroom, religion in urban settings, religious trends in contemporary America and First Amendment issues linked to religion news.
To answer a question some have already asked: I had hoped to take part in this event, but was already scheduled -- as part of my teaching duties at The King's College -- to speak during the spring National College Media Convention in New York City.
Here's another question that many are sure to ask: Will any of the sessions be online? I'll let you know if there will be streaming or YouTube archive options in the mix.
Key players in this conference, logically enough, include the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin and the Madison, Wisc., chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.