October 18, 2009

Faith watching: Newsrom to pulpit plus under the eyes

It's Sunday so let's use some of this day once reserved strictly for God to reflect on journalists who preach - in churches, in newspapers and online.

The Associated Press wrote about Steve Scott, who used a buyout from the St. Paul Pioneer Press to move from religion reporter to his own pulpit in Wisconsin. I reacted much like Amanda Greene, who blogs as the Divine Diva for the Wilmington Star News: This is not a man bites dog story. Just as some reporters who once covered politics become politicians and former education beat reporters move to the front of the classroom, some with enough interest in religion go to the seminary.

The writer of Religion reporter to pastor — not an uncommon path says she knows at least five religion reporters who have either gotten into newspapers after the ministry or entered the ministry after newspapers. She did not name them.

Let's see, in Michigan I think the latest to exchange the paper for the pulpit is Mike Wendland. The former Detroit Free Press technology columnist started a weekly broadcast "Get Real: A Christian Take on Current Events," a combination of a talk show, live band and Bible study. PCMike now is the communications pastor for Woodside Bible Church in Troy. Most of his career was in the media but since "becoming a Christian in 1989" he has become more active in the church. He joined the Woodside Bible Church staff in 2004.

Michigan also had an editor who left to preach: D. Gunnar Carlson, who retired from the Muskegon Chronicle in January 2006 (he also was editor of the Saginaw News) He became pastor of Grass Lake United Methodist Church on 7/1/07. He joined the Chronicle in 1972,and expected to retire from there. But he left at age 58 to pursue a new career.
“God often has something quite different in store for us than we expect, and that’s what’s happened here” Carlson told Clayton Hardiman for a Dec. 20, 2005 article in the newspaper where he had been a reporter, features editor, metro editor as well as editor.
Not quite the pulpit but close is what David Crumm, another former Detroit Free Press staff person, is doing. There's  David Crumm Media LLC, a multi-media publishing company focusing on religion and spirituality that is headed by partners Crumm and John Hile. I especially like  www.ReadTheSpirit.com that Crumm describes as an online home for readers who believe that diverse spiritual connections between people of faith build stronger communities. The online magazine includes inspirational stories, fresh voices, reviews of books and films—and much more.
Robert Herguth, who worked for the Chicago Sun Times , Daily Herald and briefly at the Business Journal in Milwaukee before a buyout, pulled together ChicagoCatholicNews.com Get some of the background on why and how in this post.  (Herguth also is behind Chicago Wildlife News  and a site about organized labor, Chicago Union News.)

While out looking for these names, I ran across a few other blog posts about journalists and religion. I started with another take on Steve Scott on GetReligion.org

But it was Journalism, Jesus and (Tim) Tebow that kept my attention. I didn't know about this Florida Gator who was using that empty space under his eyes to promote a religious theme. Nor did I know how that upsets some sports columnists and that Tebow's words and actions prompt journalism issues. Terry Mattingly looks at:
"increased mainstream media coverage of (a) the content of Florida Gator superstar Tim Tebow’s faith, (b) the impact of that faith on how people (including reporters) perceive him and (c) the impact of that perception on, oh, his chances to receive another Heisman Trophy?"
GetReligon.org, by the way, is designed to critique mainstream media's coverage of religion.

Do read Patrick Condon's Associated Press story Steve Scott story that led to this post. I found some posts of Scott's posts over on MinnPost, written while he was on his way to the pulpit.

Here's Mike Wendland's first broadcast. That was followed by "Is America a Christian Nation?." The latest one was "Is Marriage Meant to Last Forever?" Keep up with them online.

GetReal - Episode 1 - A Christian Take on Current Events from Woodside Bible on Vimeo.


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