Melissa Binder is rocking the Godbeat in one of the unlikeliest of places -- Portland, Ore.
"Who else is going to tell you what religion in the rest of the United States might look like in 50 years?" The Oregonian writer responds when asked about covering faith and values in America's least-religious city.
Binder's journalism talents earned her prestigious national awards even before her graduation from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2013. Besides gaining photography, writing and digital news experience on campus, she interned for major news organizations such as the CNN Wire, the Charlotte Observer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
After graduation, she joined The Oregonian as a neighborhood news reporter covering parts of Portland before transitioning to the newspaper's newly revived religion beat less than a year ago.
In introducing herself to Portland readers, she cited her own faith:
I'm interested in this beat for reasons beyond intellectual curiosity. Belief is central to individual identity for many of you. As a person of faith, I get that. I grew up in a North Carolina church (quite literally — I attended a Christian elementary and middle school in the same building where my family attended regular services). You can find me with my husband in the front row at Imago Dei Community in Southeast Portland almost every Sunday morning.