Resources for Journalists

The following resources may be helpful for journalists writing about religion—whether you're new to the beat or a veteran reporter.

Associations for Religion Newswriting

For Journalists: Religion News Association (RNA) supports religion writing excellence in the secular press. Its annual convention is usually in September.

For Journalism Professors: Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) has a Religion and Media Interest Group. The AEJMC promotes standards for education in journalism and encourages wide dissemination of communication research. Its annual convention is usually in August.

Awards for Religion Newswriting

American Academy of Religion: Award for Best In-Depth Newswriting on Religion: open to all print and Web-based journalists at media outlets of any size.

Religion Communicators Council Wilbur Awards: contest categories include books, newspapers, magazines, digital communications, and more.

Religion News Association: various contests for newspapers, multiple media, magazines, broadcast, and books.


Multifaith Calendar links from PBS's Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

Directories of Religion Entities

Faith Groups

Database of Megachurches in the United States: compiled by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research at Hartford Seminary. The site allows you to sort online by church name, state location and denominational affiliation.

Religious Groups: compiled by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research at Hartford Seminary. A list of links to websites for religious organizations or groups in the U.S.

Higher Education

Data and studies from the American Academy of Religion

Seminaries compiled by the Association of Theological Schools—alphabetical, denominational, and geographical directories of its members

Guides to Writing about Religion

TRANS/MISSIONS: resources for journalists, journalism educators, and students from the Knight Chair in Media and Religion at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication.

Religion Reporting Frequently Asked Questions: veteran newswriters address issues journalists may confront in writing about religion. Available free online or in print from the Religion Newswriters Association.

ReligionLink: story ideas and source guides from the Religion Newswriters Association. 

Reporting News About Religion: An Introduction for Journalists: 220-page paperback from Judith Buddenbaum explains how to recognize religion news, choose and use sources, write stories, and more.

Reporting on Religion: A Primer on Journalism's Best Beat: free booklet, written by Diane Connolly and edited by Debra Mason, available from the Religion Newswriters Association.

Reporting on Religion 2: A Stylebook on Journalism's Best Beat: available online from the Religion Newswriters Association, "an easy-to-use, authoritative guide created for journalists who report on religion in the mainstream media."

News about Religion

Religious Diversity News from The Pluralism Project at Harvard University. The site includes searchable archives.

News Summaries and Releases from Religion News Service.

Religion Dispatches: a progressive online magazine "devoted to exploring the intersections of religion, values, and public life, nationally and globally."

The Revealer: "a nonsectarian daily review of religion in the news and the news about religion," produced by New York University's Department of Journalism and The Center for Religion and Media.

Sightings: a semiweekly editorial on religion news and events from the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Training in Reporting about Religion

Master's Degree in Journalism-Religion: Columbia University.

Master's Degree in Specialized Journalism-Religion: University of Southern California.

Religion News Association: training opportunities available throughout the year, including Lilly scholarships in religion for journalists, training events at the annual conference, webinars on covering religion, and regional seminars.

Religious Statistics

Religious factors tend to be difficult to measure and warrant careful scrutiny, especially when comparing data from different sources or across different religions. Below are links to various online providers of religious statistics. The AAR neither endorses nor rejects any provider.

Numbers of Religious Adherents

Association of Religion Data Archives: provides "statistical and descriptive profiles of nations and regions around the world," including figures on adherents of various religions. ARDA is located at Penn State University and is supported by Lilly Endowment Inc. and the John Templeton Foundation.

The Pluralism Project: a Harvard University project documenting the changing religious landscape of the United States.

U.S. Religious Landscape Survey: a landmark study first conducted in 2007 and updated in 2014 by the Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life project. This nationwide survey, based on interviews with more than 35,000 adults, details the religious affiliation of the American public. It describes and analyzes the changes in religious affiliation based on various demographic factors such as ethnicity, age, gender, educational level, income level, and more. Extensive online tools allow you to explore the data in detail.

World Christian Database: provided by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, an evangelical Christian institution. Includes statistics on 9,000 Christian denominations and on religions in every country of the world, with much of the data broken out by ethnic group and by province and city.

Other Religion Data

Barna Research Online: this marketing research company frequently issues statistics "regarding cultural trends and the Christian Church." The company is explicitly pro-Christian.

Faith Communities Today: national surveys conducted by Hartford Seminary's Hartford Institute for Religion Research in conjunction with the Cooperative Congregations Studies Partnership. The research studies provide "information on all aspects of congregational life—worship, conflict, leadership, growth, finances, technology, and more," for churches, mosques, and synagogues in the United States.

National Congregations Study: is an "ongoing national survey effort to gather information about the basic characteristics of America's congregations," including churches, synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship. The site allows you to view and manipulate data from the surveys.

Pew Religion & Public Life: a project of the Pew Research Center, a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts. Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. 

Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) Surveys: surveys conducted by a nonpartisan research and education organization founded in 2009.