Religion News Service editor-in-chief speaks to DC chapter

By Joben David, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty intern

Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky, Editor-in-Chief of Religion News Service (RNS)

Jerome Socolovsky knows a thing or two about good reporting. But it is his knowledge and appreciation of religion that makes him an asset at his role as the Editor-in-Chief of Religion News Service (RNS). In speaking to members of the Washington chapter of the Religion Communicators Council on May 18, Socolovsky stressed the continued challenge and importance of reporting religious news in the “misinformed marketplace of religions” that is America. A lack of context and depth, says Socolovsky, has led to widespread ignorance of matters of faith. RNS works to shed light on these reporting gaps by supplying unbiased reports on religious issues from around the country, and world.

Socolovsky’s appreciation for the powerful impact faith has on people first sparked during his decade-long stint covering news in the Middle East. He saw how deep faith brought meaning to people’s lives and could be a force for good. In covering religion, “Often what you see is not what you get. You need to know more.” There was a real need for expertise and this led him to pursue master’s degree in religious studies from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an M.P.A. from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

RNS is a secular news outlet that covers religion in a non-sectarian way and aims to be the largest source of unbiased news on spirituality, religion and ideas. Aside from staff reporters, they receive news through freelancers, bloggers and opinion editorials.

Jerome Socolovsky at RCC DC Chapter meeting

Jerome Socolovsky speaks to RCC DC Chapter meeting

Organizations and groups that have a stake in religious issues can be part of RNS’s mission by supplying well-written and timely op-eds that make a point and perhaps argue something that hasn’t been seen before. Quality photographs that are free to use are always a plus, too. Socolovsky reminded religion communicators that, when communicators provide information to reporters, they also need to provide a way they can be reached, such as a cell phone number.

The task of improving the current narrative on religion reporting and improving religious literacy is a task that falls to both religion reporters and religion communicators, Socolovsky said. “We’re partners in a larger project of educating people about faith and the value of what it can do in our lives.”

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