I'm fresh back in the United States after a reporting trip to Haiti.
I'm out of the loop on the drama that has engulfed Religion News Service in recent days. However, I'm incredibly sad to learn of respected colleagues such as Jerome Socolovsky, Lauren Markoe and Kimberly Winston Ligocki losing their jobs.
Since March 2017, I've written a number of freelance pieces for RNS. I've always found both Socolovsky, who was editor in chief, and Markoe, the managing editor, to be extremely cordial, professional and helpful in making my stories better. While I don't know enough to assess the complicated inner turmoil at RNS, I can vouch for my positive personal experience with those two talented and experienced journalists/Godbeat pros.
I haven't worked with G. Jeffrey MacDonald, the newly appointed interim editor-in-chief, but I've admired and respected his religion reporting and writing for years. I wish him and the remaining RNS staff all the best. At the same time, I can't help but wonder what the ground will look like after this earthquake in the religion news world finishes shaking.
Let's dive into the Friday Five:
1. Religion story of the week: Obviously, it's the RNS happenings. While GetReligion generally does analysis, not reporting, my colleague Julia Duin delved skillfully into the RNS situation in a must-read piece featuring interviews with key sources on "How America's one religion wire service melted down over a long weekend." That's Part 1 of a two-part package by Duin. Look for Part 2 as soon as later today.
Also, Columbia Journalism Review has a news story out today ("As EIC of Religion News Service is ousted, staff fears loss of editorial control") that quotes both Socolovsky and RNS publisher Thomas Gallagher. Religion writer Stephanie Russell-Kraft did a real nice job with that report.
Also, just published from Sarah Jones at the New Republic is this insightful look "Inside the Spectacular Implosion of Religion News Service."
2. Most popular GetReligion post: Our most-clicked item last week involved Chick-fil-A.
Our most-clicked item this week involves ... yep, Chick-fil-A.
Editor Terry Mattingly's post titled "Still thinking about Chick-fil-A, as well as the emerging face of world Christianity" occupies the No. 1 spot. Check it out if you haven't already.
3. Guilt folder fodder (and more): Talk about a world-class lede.
This one from the Raleigh News & Observer — on a parking story! — deserves a mention:
RALEIGH — Jesus said wherever two or more are gathered in his name, he is also there.
But he didn't say anything about where they should park.
Churches and places of worship in Raleigh's urban neighborhoods and growing downtown have tried a variety of ways to meet their congregation parking needs.
4. Shameless plug: The Associated Church Press "Best of the Church Press" awards were announced Friday night in Chicago. Ironically, RNS — with Socolovsky listed as the editor — won the Best in Class award for news services on the same day he was fired. Congrats to him, the entire staff and especially to national correspondent Adelle Banks, who won several individual honors.
Since this is a shameless plug category, I'll also mention that the Christian Chronicle — where I serve as chief correspondent — won the Best in Class award for national or international newspapers for the fourth straight year, and I was blessed to receive a half-dozen individual honors.
Peruse the full list for a bunch of familiar names.
5. Final thought: "Then up from the grave they arose," Oklahoman sports columnist Berry Tramel wrote in describing my hometown Oklahoma City Thunder's epic comeback against the Utah Jazz on Thursday night.
Interestingly, the Deseret News in Salt Lake City wrote a feature — shared with me by Jazz fan and former GetReligion contributor Mark Kellner — on the Thunder's pregame invocation.
As the story notes, the Thunder is the only NBA team with a public prayer before games. Perhaps it helped the other night, huh? Smile. I'm just messing with my friend Kellner. The Jazz still lead the best-of-seven playoff series, 3-2.
Happy Friday, everybody! Enjoy the weekend!