Getting an article published in The Journalist isn’t easy, not least because of its limited space and budget. My article “Faith in the news”, page 8 in the December/January 2017 edition, is no exception.
I did a quick face-to-face pitch to editor Christine Buckley at the end of a lunchtime Q&A at the NUJ’s Biennial Delegate Meeting in Southport back in April.
“Reporting faith, do journalists need religious literacy training?” she nodded her head cautiously. “Get back to me nearer the time.”
When NUJ Training Wales (NUJTW) finalised the programme for the November 8 meeting, I did, and fortunately got a firm commission.
However, the ed’s brief demanded I should broaden the topic out to appeal to journalists throughout the UK – not just Wales. Hence my inclusion of two major reports on faith and the media, and the omission of some excellent speakers representing Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths in Wales.
However, Anna Wynn Roberts, NUJTW Project Manager, and joint organiser of the event with writer and TV producer, Angela Graham, has included some of these in her post-event blog http://nujtrainingwales.org/reportingbelief16/
Event chair Roger Bolton, former Panorama editor and currently presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Feedback, praised it for being “far sighted” and the “first” of its kind: expressing the hope it would inspire similar media training events in other parts of the UK.
Feedback on the Cardiff event has been so positive from journalists and faith representatives that a follow-up is planned. Since the event, Lapido Media has launched Religious Literacy: An Introduction “the first guide in the world to religious literacy for media professionals.”
Dr Jenny Taylor, Lapido Media’s founder, and a key speaker at the Cardiff event, said: “We’ve pretty much lost the ability to talk about religion and belief just when we need it the most.”
It’s maybe a leap of faith that events like NUJTW’s will hopefully help to turn the tide.