the South

A major newspaper has hired a religion reporter: Why that is amazing news for everyone

A major newspaper has hired a religion reporter: Why that is amazing news for everyone

The Tennessean, Nashville's daily newspaper, gave readers an early Christmas present.

The gift: the Gannett paper's decision to restore a full-time religion writer to its reporting staff.

Why is this amazing news for everyone? Because so much of what makes headlines, from debates over Syrian refugees to battles over the content of public school plays (looking at you, Charlie Brown!), has a religion angle. And more often than not, the best coverage of such stories comes from full-time religion beat specialists.

Tennessee readers, feel free to insert celebratory whooping and hollering here (and don't forget to hit the play arrow on the Kool and the Gang video above).

The prodigal Godbeat has come home to Music City!

Just two years ago, The Tennessean boasted one of the best religion writers on the planet in Bob Smietana. But then Smietana, the immediate past president of the Religion Newswriters Association, left to become senior writer for LifeWay Research's Facts & Trends magazine. He later joined Christianity Today as senior news editor (where he continues to crank out amazing journalism).

After Smietana's departure, The Tennessean became just the latest Bible Belt newspaper to eliminate the Godbeat (The Dallas Morning News is perhaps the most prominent paper to make this boneheaded move).

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For journalists, three crucial things to consider linked to #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches

For journalists, three crucial things to consider linked to #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches

#WhoIsBurningBlackChurches is trending on Twitter.

The bright orange flames and charred remains in images shared by major news organizations tell part of the story.

As social media fans the flames, however, journalists intent on reporting the full story must focus on the basics.

Here are three important considerations:

1. Facts are crucial.

Even as speculation — on Twitter and elsewhere — fixates on the possibility of arson or hate crimes, news organizations must be careful to report what they know. No more. No less:

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