Best practices

Download all chapters of "Reporting on Religion" (PDF)

Finding the right tools

To produce great religion stories, journalists need a good toolbox. Most tools are the same as for other beats. Religion, however, requires some special skills. Government reporters deal with plenty of authorities, but when journalists encounter religion in a story, they often end up reporting on a powerful, unseen authority that 9 in 10 Americans say they believe in. Unfortunately, God doesn’t grant interviews.

Veteran religion journalists can offer good advice for those new to the beat or journalists who simply need to know where to turn for resources when religion is part of a story. For example, reporters should never assume they know what deities, angels or demons are up to. Always attribute statements. Say: “She saw an angel at the door as she turned to run out of the burning house” instead of “an angel appeared at the door.”

Stories that include spirituality, faith and ethics aren’t just for religious people. They’re for everyone. Writing and producing them in ways that resonate with ardent believers, well-read worshippers, spiritual dabblers and unconcerned agnostics requires skill. Read on for some of our best advice.