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Columbia The New Americans: Homelands and Diasporas

Reporting Resources

Links to people and groups Columbia News21 found helpful in our research
By Carey King, July 26, 2007

During our six months of reporting, we tapped into many varied resources, online and otherwise. We list some of the most important below. These can be useful not just for journalists, but for any interested observer of religion in America today. Feel free to add your own suggested resources using the comment form below.

Organizations of journalists who report on religion:

Religion Newswriters Association

Founded in 1949 by about a dozen reporters, this Ohio-based group now has about 400 members and holds its conference each September in various locations around the country. The RNA maintains several sites including:
A thorough guide to terms religion reporters need to know.
Backgrounders on religion-related topics making current news.
A daily sampling of religion stories from across the country.

The Religion Communicators Council
Begun in 1929 and located on New York's Upper West Side, the Council includes journalists who work in the mainstream media as well as those who write for denominations and religious groups.

Links to experts:

The American Academy of Religion
Based at Emory University in Atlanta, the Academy was founded in 1909 as a group for professors of Biblical studies. It now has 9,000 members and is the world’s largest association of religion researchers and teachers.
The Academy’s database of more than 5,000 religion experts, all available for contact by journalists.

Union Theological Seminary
The oldest non-denominational seminary in the nation, Union now offers an Experts page on its Web site that lists its professors (and their contact information) by areas of expertise.

Academic centers and thinktanks:

The Pluralism Project

An outgrowth of a class taught by Harvard Divinity School professor Diana Eck, the Project began in 1991 and is still housed at Harvard. Its researchers study the growing religious diversity of the United States, with a special focus on new immigrant communities.

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life
Based in Washington, D.C., the Forum got its start in 2001 and “seeks to promote a deeper understanding of how religion shapes the ideas and institutions of American society.” Its main activities include publishing polls and reports on the intersections between religion and domestic policy, religion and politics, religion and law, and religion and world affairs.

Hartford Seminary Institute for Religion Research
Begun in 1981 at Hartford Seminary, a non-denominational theological school in Hartford, Conn., the Institute's projects include an ongoing study of megachurches in America and the Congregational Life Survey Project, “the largest and most representative profile of worshipers and their congregations ever developed in the United States.”

Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life
Based at Trinity College, another Hartford, Conn., school, the Center publishes Religion in the News, a review of recent religion journalism, three times each year.

Virtual Religion Index
Originally based at Rutgers University, the Index is a creation of Mahlon Smith, a longtime Rutgers religion professor. It's been around for about a decade and is a gateway site to an exhaustive list of religion resources online.

The Religious Movements Homepage Project
Based at the University of Virginia, the Project offers detailed profiles of more than 200 religious groups and movements. Started about a decade ago in conjunction with a UVA course about new religious movements, the site is now edited by Douglas Cowan, a sociology and religion professor at the University of Missouri at Kansas City.

The Association of Religious Data Archives
Initially targeted at academics and now expanded for journalists, educators and congregations, ARDA's Web site offers geographically-organized religion data for both the United States and world. Housed at Penn State and funded by the Lilly Endowment and John Templeton Foundation, ARDA launched in 1997.

The Center for Religion and Media at New York University
One of 10 Centers of Excellence the Pew Foundation supports at various universities around the country, the center at NYU focuses on examining the role of religion in the press while other centers -- including the Center for Religion and American Life at Yale University and the Center on Religion & Democracy at the University of Virginia -- look at ways religion interacts with a variety of other subjects, including the humanities, urban society and international affairs.
An NYU-based review of religion and the press, edited by Jeff Sharlet, a contributing editor at Harper's and Rolling Stone.

Independently-run sites:

An expansive collection of statistics on the world's major religions, plus lists of prominent people who belong to each religious group. Maintained by a computer programmer in Texas who considers religion to be something of a hobby.
Another extensive collection of data, this one compiled by a doctoral student in the United Kingdom. One interesting feature is the comparison charts it offers for different religions and denominations.
Calendars for the upcoming six years that include holy days for all of the world's major religions. Assembled by a Methodist elder from Minnesota.

Media outlets that cover religious topics:

Religion News Service
A Washington, D.C.,-based network of correspondents that provides religion news stories to the nation's leading newspapers, news magazines, broadcast organizations and religious publications. It's been around for about 70 years.

An extensive Web site, unaffilated with any religious organization or movement, that proclaims as its mission the goal of helping "you meet your spiritual needs." Includes articles, blogs, quizzes, and daily e-mailed quotes and scripture from all world religions.

Religion & Ethics Newsweekly
A television show produced by Thirteen/WNET New York that debuted on PBS in the fall of 1997. Funded by the Lilly Endowment and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the show's Web site offers a multi-faith holiday calendar, RSS feeds and lesson plans for teachers. Hosts and correspondents include Bob Abernethy, Kim Lawton and Lucky Severson.

Speaking Of Faith

An hour-long public radio show from Minnesota Public Radio/American Public Media. Host Krista Tippett picks one faith-related topic to explore each week in depth.

Dallas Morning News
Though its weekly religion page has recently undergone some changes, the paper still devotes a good amount of resources toward its religion coverage. Its religion reporters also blog and you can sign up for their weekly behind-the-scenes e-mails.

Get Religion
A blog by Terry Mattingly, a religion columnist for Scripps Howard News Service, and Douglas LeBlanc, associate editor of the evangelical Christian magazine Christianity Today. More conservative in outlook than The Revealer at NYU, Get Religion is a commentary on current news stories and reporters' treatment of religious issues.

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Over six months, members of the Columbia News21 team traveled 525,000 miles across the United States, Canada, India and Iran in search of a better understanding of minority religions and the immigrants who practice them.

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