Friday Five: New AP religion journalists, NYT hit piece, Pulitzer donation, Randy Travis baptism

The Associated Press has hired four new religion journalists to join global religion editor Sally Stapleton as part of the team funded through that big Lilly grant announced earlier this year.

They are news editor Gary Fields, Islam reporter Miriam Fam, religion and politics reporter Elana Schor and investigative correspondent Michael Rezendes, who was part of the Boston Globe team featured in the movie “Spotlight” about the Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal.

AP’s announcement follows Religion News Service’s recent additions — as part of the same Lilly grant — of Roxanne Stone as managing editor, Alejandra Molina as a national reporter covering Latinos and Claire Giangravè as Vatican reporter.

With the exception of Rezendes, none of the those hired is a familiar name to me. It’ll be interesting to watch their emergence on the Godbeat scene and hopefully meet some of them at the Religion News Association annual meeting in Las Vegas later this month.

In the meantime, let’s dive into the Friday Five:

1. Religion story of the week: Our own Richard Ostling this week strongly endorsed Rachael Denhollander’s candid new memoir ”What Is a Girl Worth? published by evangelical Tyndale House.

Time magazine published an excerpt of the book in advance of its official release next Tuesday.

And for some excellent journalism on Denhollander, check out the Louisville Courier-Journal’s in-depth piece headlined “The Sacrifice: Rachael Denhollander surrendered her deepest secrets to help put Larry Nassar away.” Yes, there are important religion components throughout, as Ostling also noted.

2. Most popular GetReligion post: That recent tweetstorm by Washington Post religion writer and former GetReligion contributor Sarah Pulliam Bailey about poor religion coverage by the news media?

Not surprisingly, it resonated with GetReligion readers.

Terry Mattingly’s post titled “'Faith' vs. 'religion'? A religion-beat pro reacts to that stunning New York Times hit piece” was our No. 1 most-clicked commentary of the week.

Read it all.

3. Guilt folder fodder (and more): For those of a certain age (raising my hand*), it may be hard to believe that this month marks the 20th anniversary of the Wedgwood Baptist Church shooting in Fort Worth, Texas.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes the anniversary and remembers some of its original reporting from September 1999 in this piece.

In case you don’t recall what happened, “a gunman burst into Wedgwood Baptist Church and opened fire, killing seven people before he detonated an explosive device and killed himself in front of more than 200 worshipers,” as the Star-Telegram explains.

4. Shameless plug: I wrote about country star Randy Travis’ recently published memoir “Forever and Ever, Amen: A Memoir of Music, Faith, and Braving the Storms of Life.”

Read my Christian Chronicle column on the singer’s faith journey.

5. Final thought: As reported by USA Today:

A Baptist pastor in Kentucky was mistakenly flamed Monday by President Donald Trump in a since-deleted tweet intended to criticize media coverage of Hurricane Dorian.

The president was lashing out at several national media outlets for reporting how statements from Trump on which states could get hit by Dorian were misleading.

"Such a phony hurricane report by lightweight reporter @jonathancarl of @ABCWorldNews," Trump tweeted Monday evening. "I suggested yesterday at FEMA that, along with Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, even Alabama could possibly come into play, which WAS true."

The problem is, @jonathancarl is the Twitter handle for Jonathan Carl, the lead pastor of South Fork Baptist Church in Hodgenville, Kentucky, which is about 55 miles south of Louisville.


Happy Friday, everybody! Enjoy the weekend!

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