5Q+1 interview, part 2: RNS writer David Gibson on what GetReligion doesn't 'get' about religion news coverage

Second of two parts

In case you missed it, we ran the first — and my favorite — part of our interview with award-winning Religion News Service national reporter David Gibson on Wednesday:

As part of my e-mail discussion with Gibson, I asked:

Is there anything GetReligion doesn't "get" about religion coverage in the mainstream media? Any tips or suggestions to help us improve what we do?

Gibson's reply:

In his answers in this space, Bob Smietana made good points about diversifying your stable of bloggers and also adopting a more charitable — let’s just say fair — attitude toward other journalists.
I would second those suggestions. I also think that GetReligion writers need to practice the journalistic customs that they preach — accuracy, fairness, balance and such. Too often those are cast aside. Perhaps hiring more writers with journalistic experience would help.
The site could also be open about its biases and its agenda. Not being transparent undermines your credibility and winds up limiting your audience, and you wind up preaching to a small choir of like-minded conservatives. That in turn undermines the wider goal (and greater good, I’d say) of highlighting religion coverage in the media and encouraging more and better coverage.
But would such changes mean that GetReligion wouldn’t be GetReligion any more? I don’t know the answer to that one.

Fair enough.

GetReligion readers can judge — and weigh in on — Gibson's statement.

I feel compelled to respond to just a couple of points:

1. The issue of accuracy, fairness, balance and such: GetReligion is a website that advocates quality journalism, but we are an opinion blog, not a reporting organization. We do media criticism. However, if Gibson or anyone else has specific examples where GetReligion has not been accurate or fair, we would welcome those. Please provide links. I myself have voiced frustration that "writing media criticism on short deadlines is like pulling a tooth a day" and that "you don't know the behind-the-scenes circumstances." 

2. The suggestion to hire more writers with journalistic experience: Everyone who writes for GetReligion has mainstream media experience. I wrote religion for The Oklahoman and The Associated Press. Our editor, Terry Mattingly, covered religion for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver and the Charlotte Observer and the Charlotte News before launching his nationally syndicated "On Religion" column. Jim Davis served as religion editor for the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Dawn Eden worked on the editorial staffs of the New York Post and the New York Daily News. George Conger served as a British correspondent for The Jerusalem Post, and his work has appeared in various British newspapers, such as The Times, Telegraph and Guardian. Richard N. Ostling probably needs no introduction, but he's a Religion Newswriters Association Lifetime Achievement Award winner known for his long career with AP and Time magazine.

I am extremely appreciative to Gibson for the interview.

Thank you, sir, for joining the conversation at GetReligion!

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