Pulitzer Center Update

Beyond Religion: The Evolution of the Religion Beat

(From left to right) Tom Gjelten, Krista Tippett, and Krithika Varagur sharing a laugh during the workshops Q&A session. Image by Jin Ding. Washington, D.C., 2019.

From left to right, Tom Gjelten, Krista Tippett, and Krithika Varagur sharing a laugh during the workshops Q&A session. Image by Jin Ding. Washington, D.C., 2019.

Claire Seaton, Pulitzer Center Multimedia Coordinator, opens up the workshop with a warm introduction. Image by Kem Sawyer. Washington, D.C., 2019.

Claire Seaton, Pulitzer Center Multimedia Coordinator, opens up the workshop with a warm introduction. Image by Kem Sawyer. Washington, D.C., 2019.

On day two of the Beyond Religion Conference, attendees of the “The Evolution of the Religion Beat” workshop had an open conversation about religion and how it has evolved over time. Krista Tippett, creator and host of "On Being", Tom Gjelten, religion and belief correspondent on NPR News, and Krithika Varagur, Pulitzer Center grantee and freelance journalist, spoke on how religion influenced their approach to journalism.

Tibbett introduced the topic saying that while people may believe that “religion is behind the worst problems in the world,” it also has been noticed that politics are behind the worst problems in the world.

Although the United States adheres to separation of church and state, it is culturally acceptable for religion to influence political decision-making, Varagur said, noting a large Islamist protest against the Christian governor of Jakarta who was accused of blasphemy.

Gjelten remarked that politicians today have become more willing to discuss their individual beliefs. In the 21st century, “candidates from different backgrounds are now speaking about their different practices,” he said.

During the Q&A, participants asked direct questions about inclusivity in western media. They asked about the best practices in engaging with others. A few tips from the panelists:

Varagur: “Challenging somebody in an interview is OK. Hear what they have to say first and then challenge them."

Gjelten: “Remove yourself from them and give them the opportunity to hear themselves. That gives them a moment of reflection.”

Tippett: “Journalism is really curious about the worst things and giving it a platform. So it is important to capture their quotes and their words.”

Overall, the discussion was insightful and engaging, and participants left the space feeling excited and inspired to continue to tell their own stories surrounding religion.