Archbishop Charles Chaput delivered a terrific address to the Religion Newswriters Association recently — and concluded with this valuable thought:
Journalism is a “knowledge profession.” But like any other profession, the work of journalism doesn’t necessarily translate into self-knowledge or self-criticism. And any lasting service to the common good demands both. Journalism has its own unstated orthodoxies. It has its own prejudices. And when they go unacknowledged and uncorrected–as they too often seem to do–they can diminish our public life.
Religion journalism deals with the most fundamental things about human meaning, things intimate, defining, and sacred to many millions of people. So master and respect your material. Know yourself and your prejudices. Acknowledge mistakes, and don’t make them a habit. Be as honest with yourself as you want your sources to be. Understand believers and their institutions as they understand themselves. And if you do that–and do it with integrity, fairness, and humility–then you’ll have the gratitude of the people you cover, and you’ll embody the best ideals of your profession.
Read the whole thing. It’s worth it.