Religion coverage appears to be expanding in American media at the same time that the traditional religion sections and religion editors of newspapers are being phased out. Writing in RNA Extra (January/February), the newsletter of the Religion Newswriters Association, editor Debra Mason notes that the trend of religion sections shrinking or folding has been taking place for several years.
The most notable instance of this trend took place in early January when the Dallas Morning News religion section, the largest and most in-depth of its kind, was discontinued. As in the case of other defunct religion sections, commercial advertisers were not willing to buy advertising in religion sections and nonprofit religious groups could not afford the daily newspaper rate. Religious news will now be integrated throughout the paper.
Mason adds that there is also a pattern of religion editors being laid-off–from the Hartford Courant and Wichita Eagle to U.S. News & World Report. Part of the reason for such layoffs are staff reductions taking place as newspapers lose readers. But at the same time, Mason maintains that the religion beat is “far from declining.” Religion Newswriters Association members and subscribers are at an all-time high (540), and more journalists write about than ever before– “not just in daily newspapers, but in places like the Washington Monthly, The New Yorker, The Nation,The New Republic, Atlantic and Harpers.”
(RNA Extra, http://www.rna.org)