Journalism tip: How to tell when the Washington Post Style goddesses approve of someone

Journalism tip: How to tell when the Washington Post Style goddesses approve of someone

Trust me on this: If you did an afternoon talk-radio show in red zip-code land about religion news, during each and every show someone would call in and ask the same question.

Here it is, in its most blunt and simplistic form: Why do so many journalists hate religious people?

I hear it all the time, because many GetReligion readers seem convinced that your GetReligionistas think that journalists hate religion and/or religious people. That's just wrong, friends and neighbors. At the very least, it's simplistic to the point of being utter nonsense.

But since I have been answering that question for a long time, let's talk about that subject -- since that was the issue looming in the background during this week's "Crossroads" podcast (click here to tune that in).

First of all, many journalists are way too apathetic about all things religious to work up a hot batch of hate. You know the old saying, the opposite of love is not hate, it's apathy.

Also, in the newsrooms in which I worked, there were lots of believers of various kinds. I'm including the spiritual-but-not-religious folks, the Christmas-and-Easter people and people who grew up in one tradition (think Catholicism) and then veered over into another (think liberal Protestantism, especially the Episcopal Church). Then you had people who were ex-this or formerly-that, but now they were just "Go to church/temple with the parents when at home" cultural believers. Do some of them "hate" religion? Maybe. But that's rare.

Now, here is what is common. There are journalists who think that there are GOOD religious people and BAD religious people. The question is whether you can tell who is who when you are reading coverage produced by some of these reporters and editors.

Like what? Let's take a brief look at that Rod "The Benedict Option" Dreher profile that the Style section of The Washington Post ran the other day. Click here for my post on that.

Now, start with the headline: "Rod Dreher is the combative, oversharing blogger who speaks for today’s beleaguered Christians."

Now, as I noted in the podcast, you could talk about that headline for an hour.

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If it's May 1, it must be Beltane; The Oregonian takes a nice, clean look at pagans

If it's May 1, it must be Beltane; The Oregonian takes a nice, clean look at pagans

About 25 years ago, I covered a meeting of pagans –- or witches –- or maybe it was both, for The Houston Chronicle. They were decked out in all manner of robes, rabbits foot talismans and jewelry.  What struck me about this particular group was how most of the believers seemed to be aging hippies.  

It reminded me of my Society for Creative Anachronism days where we all ran about in medieval dress, using modes of speech rich with “prithee sir” or "wouldst thou, fair knight, pour me a class of wine?" The costumes didn't change the fact that there were a lot of lecherous guys there who used the occasion to hit on me and my friends.

I still took a second look at the beautifully written Oregonian story on Beltane, the May Day feast celebrated by a pagan group in Portland that is very big on costumes. It’s not always easy to get the trust of groups involved in Wicca or Druids or other earth religions, so it’s saying something that this group allowed a reporter into their midst.

Jonathan Levy was bored. His girlfriend was busy with National Novel Writing Month. He sulked. "Make friends," she said, shooing him away.
The reasonable step, he notes with a laugh, would have been to join a kickball team or volunteer crew or any one of Portland's many social organizations. Instead, he launched a new religious congregation for neo-pagan Druids.

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It's strictly taboo: Lancaster paper kills article on a witch

How controversial could a witch be in 2014? Plenty, if you’re in Lancaster, Pa. — where a newspaper ran a feature on a local practitioner, then killed it. At issue is a long, friendly, garden-variety profile on Kim Cabot Consoli of Bainbridge, in the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal. The May 17 feature, by a former GetReligionista — the Rev. Elizabeth Eisenstadt-Evans — that described Consoli’s “craft,” how she practices it, her relationship with a Mayan teacher and Salem witch Laurie Cabot, etc. There was also a sidebar primer on things like the definition of “Wiccan” and whether witches worship Satan.

Then, as media watcher Jim Romenesko reports, the newspaper learned that Consoli had another record — an arrest on charges of prostitution.

Here is the really interesting journalism hook in this story about a news story. The newspaper’s editors then ran a lengthy mea culpa.

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