Sensationalism versus sobriety in the art of religion news in the 19th & 20th Centuries

By , posted July 20, 2016 at 6:00 am

The reign of “objective news” was gradually supplanted by the reign of screaming headlines and sob-provoking stories.

Intro: Complexity and contradiction in the art of online religion news reporting

By , posted May 27, 2016 at 6:00 am

The art of religion news media starts in America with its very first newspaper.

Reporting on Religion

By , posted February 2, 2016 at 6:00 am

National Conference March 14th! After Iowa, you know that you need to brush up on your religious reporting.

Dowser Retrospectives. Part V in the series

By , posted November 24, 2014 at 6:00 am

A Journey through NYC religions’ Retros hope to find religious innovations buried in NYC’s past that can be recycled. We practice “history that you can use.”

Innovation Retrospectives. Part IV of the series

By , posted November 17, 2014 at 6:00 am

Jacob Riis brought a new way of doing journalism and photography in order to realize certain religious values.

Retros on disruptions and catastrophes. Retrospectives III

By , posted November 10, 2014 at 6:00 am

“Creativity rarely flows out of an act of complete originality.It is usually the clash of two value systems or traditions, which, in collision, create a transcendent third thing.”

The City Q/A. Retrospectives/Retros II

By , posted November 3, 2014 at 6:00 am

A Journey through NYC religions has created a vertical (feature series) called Retrospectives to show how the great questions of life have always been central to New York City.

The city poem is:

Make a buck here, but better ask, why does it matter?
Look good on the runway, but better ask, do   (more…)


By , posted October 24, 2014 at 3:36 pm

How do you report on history without making most of your readers go asleep?

GetReligion moves back to its own website

By , posted August 11, 2014 at 6:00 am

We are returning from Patheos to our status as an independent website that wrestles with issues of religion-beat coverage in the mainstream press.

Sympathetic Objectivity Part 4

By , posted August 1, 2013 at 6:18 am


Skepticism and its journalistic embodiment investigative journalism are essential options for the reporter. In the first place the reporter needs to reflect skeptically on his own “sympathy” – is it just a poise to manipulate interviewees or is it real? It is so easy to fool oneself about one’s own virtue.

Second, a reporter needs to   (more…)

Sympathetic Objectivity Part 3

By , posted July 8, 2013 at 6:15 am

Reporting should always pass through a zone of objectivity. This is a zone where one tries that super hard task of seeing as if a third party oneself and the people being interviewed. Fortunately, in this city of outsiders it should be easier to latch onto an outsider’s perspective. We try to accelerate this process by building an objectivity into our reporting process.

One way A Journey through NYC religions does this is through the use of four sensitizing questions that we always use during our interviews. We ask, what is unique and different about your religious organization? I.e. what is special, how would you convince us to check you out? What kind of impact is your synagogue, mosque, temple, or church having on your neighborhood or your network of people? And can you give an example of this impact from the last couple of weeks? If you were mayor of NYC, how would you change the city?

Sympathetic Objectivity Part 2

By , posted June 20, 2013 at 4:00 pm

At A Journey through NYC religions we have a different approach which is built into our organization. Our idea of sympathy is that we have a “fellow-feeling” with our respondents. This solidarity is extended to “fellow understanding.” We empathize with them to the extent that we can think and feel like them. This reproduction of the other person into ourselves is not complete but is enough for empathetic understanding. Of course, the reproduction is constantly revised in light of comments and actions of the original, the person being understood! One reason we decided to launch a magazine rather than a blog was to develop a rigorous editing cycle of revisions.

This process resembles “adduction,” which the philosopher Charles Pierce said was the synthetic interaction of deductive reasoning (reasoning from your first religious or philosophical principles) and inductive reasoning (reasoning based on the patterns that present themselves in the reality that one is examining).

Sympathetic Objectivity I

By , posted April 3, 2013 at 1:33 pm

A Journey through NYC religions calls its type of journalism “sympathetic objectivity.” Although it might seem obvious to say that a reporter should start with sympathy towards his or her subject matter, many journalists often greet such an approach with disbelief.

The usual method of journalists is to start with skepticism in order to arrive at an   (more…)