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Journalism, religion conference seeks to bridge gap

Nov. 17, 1997

By Lori Lenarduzzi

Staff Writer for The Baylor Lariat

The journalism department hosted a program Friday focused on the relationship between religion and the media.

One of the featured speakers was Pam Schaeffer, special projects editor for the National Catholic Reporter. She discussed the different views of the media with regard to religion and how it is sometimes a more difficult subject to cover.

'Editors tend to think of religion as a boring subject until they see a story that convinces them differently,' Schaeffer said.

Another point she raised was that many times reporters avoid the religion beat because it is often filled with conflict. Schaeffer told students not to be afraid to write stories that bring negative affects.

'Conflict is a sign that people care,' Schaeffer said. 'When there is a lot of conflict, it's a sign of how much people care. Conflict and controversy are what make good stories, even though people may not like it.'

Schaeffer said she realized from a young age that she wanted to be a religion reporter. She grew up attending churches of the Lutheran and Greek Orthodox faiths.

'They often had very different views,' Schaeffer said. 'I learned from a very young age to respect and even love people who had opposing points of view.'

Karen Taft, a Bonners Ferry, Idaho, junior said she thought it was admirable that Schaeffer sought out the position of a religion reporter.

'I thought it was interesting that she wrote stories about religion because she wanted to, not because she was assigned them,' Taft said.

The rest of the program featured speakers Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Standard and John Dart, religion reporter for the Los Angeles Times.

'I thought the speakers were interesting because I enjoy hearing the media's views on religion in today's society,' Casey Hall, a Phoenix, Ariz., junior said.

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