GetReligionistas

When profiling a Trump HHS appointee, The Atlantic misses key journalism cues

When profiling a Trump HHS appointee, The Atlantic misses key journalism cues

This should be an obvious fact, but to some, it may be shocking: When a given political candidate wins election as President of the United States, they and their team gain the right to appoint bureaucrats of their choosing at federal agencies. Many must be confirmed by the Senate and some may be denied confirmation or withdraw their nominations. Generally, however, the new sheriff gets to name their principal deputies. It's one of the job's perks, alongside a private helicopter and jumbo jet.

Granted, my explanation is on a par with that now oft-mocked Sesame Street cartoon about how a bill becomes a law. But it appears to have been forgotten in the four and one-half months since a real estate mogul born and raised in the New York City borough of Queens was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.

There's been plenty of ink -- and misapprehensions -- about some of President Donald J. Trump's appointees, but there are also attempts at more insightful coverage, as GetReligion alumna Mollie Hemingway tweeted on Wednesday:

Great piece by @emmaogreen: The devout, conservative head of civil rights at HHS could reshape American health care

Herewith The Atlantic's take on the new head of the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services:

The offices inside the Department of Health and Human Services are aggressively tan. Roger Severino, the newly appointed head of its Office for Civil Rights, hasn’t done much by way of decoration. Aside from a few plaques and leftover exhibits from old cases, his Clarence Thomas bobblehead doll and crucifix are the only personal touches in his work space.

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Happy 13th birthday, GetReligion! My wish as we enter the teenage years

Happy 13th birthday, GetReligion! My wish as we enter the teenage years

Oh no.

GetReligion has entered its teenage years, as tmatt noted this morning.

In case you need it, here's some advice on how to survive this awkward time for your favorite journalism-focused website (we are your favorite, right?).

But seriously, folks ...

Thirteen years is a long time for blog to survive. When Terry Mattingly and Douglas LeBlanc launched GetReligion in 2004, I was covering religion for The Associated Press in Dallas. "Blog" was one of Merriam-Webster's "Words of the Year" that same year, but — as I recall — I didn't become familiar with the concept until leaving AP and joining The Christian Chronicle in 2005.

I can't recall exactly how I found GetReligion or when, but I was an avid reader of the site before joining the team of contributors in March 2010. That was — gulp! — nearly seven  years and 11,943 email conversation threads ago. At least that's how many threads my "GetReligion story possibilities" folder shows right now — I may have deleted one or two threads over the years.

At GetReligion's 10th anniversary in 2014, I shared "Five things they didn't tell me" about this gig. None has changed (see my original elaboration on this points here):

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Hypothetical question: What would happen if a religion news critic had nothing to say?

Hypothetical question: What would happen if a religion news critic had nothing to say?

It might seem crazy what I'm about to say ...

But hypothetically speaking, what would happen if a religion news critic had nothing to say?

Here at GetReligion, I write four posts a week. My role as a contributor to this journalism-focused website is pretty simple: I critique media coverage of religion — sometimes praising, other times criticizing, often pointing out what we characterize here as holy ghosts in coverage.

However, I need a peg. An angle. A reason to highlight a story — either good or bad. 

It's not enough that the U.S. Supreme Court issues a ruling in a religion case. I need something to say — related to the journalism — about the coverage of that case.

It's not enough to deem a religion story in the Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal or Orlando Sentinel interesting. I need something to say — related to the journalism — about that story.

Most of the time, your friendly neighborhood GetReligionistas — myself included — can't get to everything we want to write about. Each of us calls "dibs" on specific stories and topics as they develop. And yet, we still can't get to everything. Thus, from time to time, we mention our "guilt folders."

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Man in the Van: ESPN makes solid contact but fails to hit easy fastball out of the park

Man in the Van: ESPN makes solid contact but fails to hit easy fastball out of the park

Time flies.

Five years and roughly 675 posts ago, I made my GetReligion debut on March 8, 2010.

In my introductory post, I wrote:

For a faithful GetReligion reader such as myself, joining the team of contributors is like a baseball fan invited to sit in the press box and share his opinions during the World Series. Although it's not quite in the same league as my beloved Texas Rangers, I'm a big fan of this weblog and its endeavor to pinpoint and expose the religion ghosts in the secular news media.

During GetReligion's 10th anniversary celebration last year, I shared my list of "Five things they didn't tell me."

But for my own GR-versary, the boss man Terry Mattingly — aka tmatt — suggested that I critique ESPN The Magazine's recent "Man in the Van" feature as a tribute to all 10 of our readers who care about religion and sports.

"Sure thing," I replied, welcoming any excuse to write about baseball.

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A more graceful Ross joins GetReligion crew

Some folks get annoyed when they read a news story with holes, a piece with errors, prose with pockmarks. Me? I see it as an opportunity to learn and to teach. And when there’s nothing to fix, when all angles are covered and no questions remain by the ending, I rejoice and join in the celebration of good journalism. Everyone wins!

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Another hack piece by CNN ... maybe (Updated)

What’s good for the goose is good for, um, Sarah Pulliam Bailey.

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