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April 20, 2016

When John Longhurst began his communications career in the 1980s it was common for all Canadian newspapers to have a faith page and a reporter assigned full or part-time to the religion beat. In ‘98, he organized and led the inaugural national conference on faith in the media, which drew editors and reporters into dialogue about the importance of covering religion. Religion reporting was “on everybody’s radar.”

This is in stark contrast to today’s mainstream newsrooms. Longhurst, faith page columnist at the Winnipeg Free Press and director of communications and marketing at the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, says other than himself he knows of only one other reporter (at the Vancouver Sun) who has religion as part of his beat. Otherwise, freelance journalists are covering these stories.

This means almost no one in mainstream media is equipped to explore how religious issues pertain to the daily news.

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