Courageous reporters taking on powerful religious groups and drug dealers to do excellent religion journalism. The increasing mix of religion and politics in Latin America. How a Spanish entrepreneur convinced the papacy to use social media. The ways Pentecostal-Catholic competition is contributing to religious revival in the region.
International audiences, including readers of three of Latin America’s largest newspapers, received insights into the state of religion and journalism in Latin America in reporting coming out of the recent IARJ conference in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Enjoy the work of Sergio Rubin, Jose Maria Mayrink, Mariano de Vedia and other prominent writers in the articles below.
Sergio Rubin of Clarin reports on the development of the International association of Religion Journalists and discusses issues facing religion writers, including the legal challenges brought against Brazilian investigative reporter Elvira Lobato for her work on the finances of a major Pentecostal group and the courage shown by Luis Chaparro of Mexico in writing about the cult of “Santa Muerte” embraced by drug traffickers.
Mariano De Vedia of La Nacion tells the fascinating story of how Gustavo Entrala helped convince Pope Benedict to open a Twitter account. Pope Francis now has millions of followers and is retweeted in impressive numbers.
Jose Maria Mayrink of O Estado de S. Paulo reported on the challenges reporters face in getting religion news in the media, particularly reporting about religious minorities. He also shared discussions about the growing entanglement of religion and politics in Latin America and the obstacles journalists face in getting information from religious groups.
IARJ Board Chair Maria Paz-Lopez reports on the conference’s highlights by exploring the sometimes uncomfortable relationship between journalism and religion. As she writes:
In different parts of the world, reporters and analysts working for non-confessional media often hear similar complaints of religious leaders when it comes to chronicles and beliefs:There is no spiritual dimension in news stories.
IARJ Executive Director David Briggs, who also writes the Ahead of the Trend column on religion research for the Association of Religion Data Archives, reports that a combination of increasing religious freedom and competition is contribution to a rising tide of religion in the region. A Catholic Church in Latin America that was in danger of becoming a stale religious monopoly is reasserting itself in what is a vibrant religious landscape from Mexico to Brazil.
Gustavo Werneck wrote in Estado de Minas about the papacy’s road to Twitter and shares some popular tweets from Pope Francis.
Cesar Augusto dos Santos of Vatican Radio provided details of the conference.