Pew and Lilly Support Continued Publication of 
Religion in the News  

Fall 2001

The Pew Chartable Trusts and Lilly Endowment, Inc. have awarded the Greenberg Center grants to support the continued publication of its magazine, Religion in the News, for a least three more years.

In July, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the sole funder of Religion and the News from 1998 to the summer of 2001, awarded a follow-up grant of $350,000. A similar sum was awarded in April by Lilly Endowment Inc. as part of the grant that established the Center’s "Religion by Region" program.

Religion in the News seeks to assist journalists and improve the overall quality of coverage by providing a sophisticated, non-partisan, and ongoing examination of the ways in which the media covers religious dimensions of the news.

In addition to supporting staff and publication costs, the grants also will support an modest expansion of circulation, improvements in production, and a major redesign of the magazine.

Religion in the News now reaches more than 8,500 readers. Journalists, and especially those who make editorial decisions at print and broadcast news organizations, are the primary target audience, but the magazine also reaches several thousand academics, religious leaders, public officials, and foundation executives.

Renewal of foundation support for the magazine, which is distributed free to a selected audience, followed an evaluation of the magazine’s impact after its first seven issues. During the late summer of 2000, the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut conducted a national telephone survey of readers to provide data that would allow the Center and its funders to assess the value of the magazine. Overall, the survey showed that Religion in the News is reaching its audience of journalistic decision makers, most of whom open it, read at least some of it, and use what they’ve learned to inform their story assignments and decisions.

The survey separated out the journalistic and academic audiences and responses indicated that more than 90 percent of both groups considered the publication either "excellent" or "good."

Thirty-five percent of the journalists said they read three or more articles per issue, and another 56 percent claimed to read at least one. Thus, nine out of 10 readers read one or more articles in every issue. Among non-journalists, the numbers were: 53 percent read three or more, and another 41 percent read at least one (thus, 94% read one or more).

Because they primary goal of Religion in the News is to enhance news coverage of religion, the Center was particularly interested in how the journalists make use of Religion in the News. Sixty-three percent said they use the magazine as background for their own writing; 60 percent for story ideas and/or assignments. In addition, 91 percent said they found the magazine "somewhat useful" or "very useful" for their own understanding and education; 73 percent for evaluating their own coverage; 60 percent for generating stories; and 57 percent for long-term planning of coverage.