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Dallas Morning News Cuts Religion Beat

The Texas newspaper cut its' religion section two years ago but kept religion reporting going through a religion blog.

Just two years after The Dallas Morning News cut its religion section, editors have decided to cut its local religion beat by moving two religion reporters to covering suburban schools.

It's unclear whether the religion blog will still be updated, but Sam Hodges said in an e-mail that he probably won't be able to keep it up. He and other writers are still posting interesting items, including this today:

The swine flu scare has prompted at least one Texas church to order a shipment of individually wrapped communion wafers and juice packets, thus cutting down on handling that could spread the disease.

Columnist Rod Dreher writes more on his blog:

Depressing very local news: there is no longer a religion beat at the Dallas Morning News. Our last two religion reporters have been reassigned to covering suburban schools. I have no idea why this decision was made, and I am in no position to question it, certainly. All newspapers, and certainly my own, are in serious trouble during this economic crisis, and we can't cover everything. But it is a shame, and indeed more than a shame, to think that the DMN's Religion section used to be routinely acclaimed within the profession as the best religion section in the country. And given how passionately religious Dallas and its environs are, this is to be expected, and welcomed.

I spoke to the newspaper's editor Bob Mong after the newspaper cut its award-winning religion section in 2007.

"In a time of flat revenues, we simply could not generate the advertising to break even on the section," Mong said. "I don't think any paper in the country tried harder than we did over the years."

Mong helped develop the religion section in 1994, but sees more potential now for online reporting in blogs and newsletters. The Dallas Morning News website has seen more page hits on its religion blog than it did for its religion section online, he said.

"I like the idea of a section. I obviously believed in the section approach to give the subject more visibility," Mong said. "It had a very strong and loyal readership, but there came a time when we simply had to make some difficult choices."

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