On the lifeboat

I became a religion writer because I’m obsessed with religion.

Reading about, researching and interviewing people of faith? I could do it all day. In the beginning, the writing was just a necessary step toward a paycheck and a new conversation.

But I’ve developed a kind of crush on journalism lately. I’ve started reading books on writing and gravitated towards blogs about the future of the ‘industry.’

I plot out plans to increase web traffic and self-promotion strategies with my business-minded boyfriend. I speak up in team meetings about how we have to evolve to be a web-first newsroom.

And I read great articles like this one from Poynter, on ushering high-quality writers into the digital age.

Poynter focuses on The Dallas Morning News, which is trying to reinvent itself without sacrificing its integrity or heart. Reporters who didn’t take buyouts have been offered the resources to become a new breed of journalist, someone who envisions their article on a phone screen rather than in print. They filled out applications and many were reassigned to different teams.

“Not everyone got where they wanted to be. Some people stayed where they were. But the process, which was long and led to lots of uncertainty and anxiety, also gave editors the chance to see where people would like to be in the future,” Poynter reports.

They’re remaking themselves by bringing unnoticed strengths into the light.

The piece didn’t make any mention of faith or spirituality — the two topics I claim to reflect on at kelseydallas.com — but it spoke to my soul. It holds valuable lessons for journalists like me, as well as religious communities. (No, really!)

Think about it: Churches, like newspapers, are facing an uncertain future. And it’s tempting for fans of faith to giving up on righting the ship, even when they know they’ve got something beautiful and life-giving going on.

To borrow another line from Poynter, this mentality is “kind of like saying, ‘Oh my God, this life boat is so crowded.’ … It’s like, shut the f*** up. You’re on the lifeboat.”

There are many faith leaders out there who, in their own small way, have brought new life to their religious community. I know because I’ve interviewed them.

Just like there are many journalists who are paving a path to success in a nerve-wracking new landscape.

The key is to not give up on them and, even better, to emulate them. Change is scary. But supportive editors and loving community members are our lifeboat life vests.

 

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