This post will be the last update for FaithWorld, just a few months before its 10th anniversary of publication. After a decade of editing this blog and 40 years of reporting for Reuters, I am retiring from daily journalism and moving to a less hectic work schedule. Reuters will continue to report on religion when it plays a role in the news, but not with the same focus as we did during the life of this blog.
When FaithWorld started, we wrote posts for the blog discussing the background to religion stories and moderated an active comments box. As I wrote in our initial post on October 15, 2007, “Reuters covers news around the world. Religion is in the news almost anywhere we look – sometimes as a story purely about religion, sometimes as a story that mixes faith with politics, diplomacy, lifestyle or terrorism. So our correspondents are increasingly covering religious leaders, following trends and examining the role of faith in public life. They have also widened their scope to deal with other areas connected to people’s deepest beliefs, such as divisive social issues, bioethical challenges, even brain research into why and how we think.”
That is what we started out to do. After about two years, Reuters shut the comments boxes on its blogs. While there was some interesting discussion, far too many comments were aggressive and polemical, often based on a misunderstanding of the religion involved, or even of faith itself. Our job was reporting, not running debates, so we stepped back from that line of work. Several years later, I examined this problem in an essay for the blog The Immanent Frame (here).
We also found that writing for an active blog was so time-consuming that it diverted attention from writing for our news wire, which was after all the main outlet for our work. So we shifted focus to using the blog to aggregate our religion stories from around the world. There was no other place to easily find our output on religion in the news.
This had to be a selective process. Not all Reuters stories concerning religion could be posted on FaithWorld. So the ones that did make it were considered to be the most important, or the most interesting, or the most likely to be overlooked in the rush of other news that day.
It could never have been complete. Our reporting bureaus around the world had to focus on the main political and economic news first. A religion story had to be a strong one if it was going to win their time and attention. Some correspondents had a personal familiarity with the religion they were reporting on, but many didn’t. And in some parts of the globe, hard-working staff simply did not have the time to provide regular coverage of the issue.
Still, FaithWorld tried as best we could to shine a light on issues concerning religion around the world, in the hope that this -- like our other reporting -- might better inform discussions about the way the world works.
This blog, still available for posts since November 2016 here (www.reuters.com/faithworld/) and earlier posts going back to 2007 here (blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/), will not be updated. The Twitter account @RTRFaithWorld will also be discontinued. I will continue to write about religion for other publications in Britain and the United States. You can follow me on my personal Twitter account @THeneghanParis or on LinkedIn.