During a Sept. 30 symposium in Washington on how self-described progressive Catholics can reframe media coverage of church issues, speakers talked about one thorny media problem for Catholics of all stripes: the shrinking number of reporters with religion as their beat.
Jesuit Father Thomas Reese, of Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, sends a weekly e-mail to religion reporters. He commented that every week “I get more and more bouncebacks” as reporters’ work-based e-mail accounts have been deactivated now that they no longer work for the publication.
Father Reese noted that some reporters newly assigned to cover religion are unfamiliar with knowledge of basic church matters that with other writers would have been taken for granted. When being interviewed by one scribe — the name of the news outlet will be withheld here since we are confident the writer continues to learn on the job — Father Reese said he was asked “what the difference is between a Jesuit priest and a diocesan priest.” Later in the interview, when Father Reese made a reference to “St. Peter, the first pope,” the writer asked him, “And what was his last name?”