COLUMBIA, Mo. — Recent announcements at Religion News Service, including new staff and a pending $4.9 million grant, demonstrate the strategic adjustments RNS is making to honor its 84-year legacy and ensure its bright future.
With these changes, RNS aims to do more than simply survive in a 21st century media landscape. Our vision requires bringing renewed energy and an innovation mindset to the field of religion journalism. By educating and informing a growing audience, we can help cultivate mutual understanding among people of different cultures, faiths and traditions. The result? More peaceful, pluralistic communities around the world.
Because RNS also has a fundamental duty to produce and uphold accurate, ethical journalism, its Board of Managers is taking this opportunity to correct and clarify key elements of our organization that have been inaccurately reported by multiple outlets. For the record:
- The RNS Board of Managers is a subset of the Religion News Foundation Board of Directors, appointed by the RNF board, with separate meetings and duties in accordance with the RNS operating agreement. Collectively, the RNS managing board’s members have more than 80 years of religion news expertise across the journalism, academic and nonprofit sectors. It does not include reporters currently employed by RNS or competing media outlets, in order to avoid conflict of interest with our fiduciary and legal oversight of this daily news agency.
- Through our affiliation with the University of Missouri School of Journalism, RNF/RNS full-time employees are also MU employees, with respect to human resources policies and procedures, benefits and payroll. We reimburse MU for the cost of benefits and payroll on a quarterly basis, and comply with the university’s staff hiring and termination requirements.
- The RNS CEO and publisher does not have the power to dismiss the editor-in-chief. In accordance with Section 4.4 of the RNS operating agreement, only the RNS Board of Managers may appoint and remove the editor-in-chief. We take this responsibility seriously, in close coordination with MU’s human resource services and a shared commitment to confidentiality and employee privacy.
- The role of RNF/RNS CEO and publisher requires significant entrepreneurial, fundraising, operational, strategy, risk management, governance and marketing skills; it does not require newsroom experience. The RNS Board of Managers is confident in Thomas Gallagher’s qualifications for success in this role, solidified by his impressive performance over the last 18 months. We are also thrilled to have G. Jeffrey MacDonald, a highly accomplished religion reporter, working with him as interim editor-in-chief of RNS during this period of transition and growth.
- The RNS publisher and Board of Managers may relay story ideas and responses, or offer to help connect journalists with sources in our networks, but do not attend editorial meetings or otherwise involve themselves in editorial matters unless an issue arises that relates to our fiduciary or legal responsibilities.
- In addition to producing and distributing original news stories, commentary and photos, RNS operates a press release distribution service. The RNS CEO and publisher has the authority to set or waive fees for press releases submitted for distribution, as well as reprint requests, event sponsorships and other inquiries related to our marketing plan and budget.
- The RNS Board of Managers recognizes that change and growth can be difficult for some, while others thrive in this dynamic environment. It is an exciting time to be a part of RNS and the field of religion journalism as we develop a more ambitious and sustainable business model.
Inaccuracies concerning these details have appeared in several news and opinion pieces in recent weeks. Both types of journalism are critical components of intelligent discourse — but neither is entitled to create its own facts. We appreciate this opportunity to set the record straight.
RNS remains dedicated to our mission as an independent, nonprofit and award-winning source of professional journalism covering religion, spirituality, culture and ethics. By reaffirming our commitment to accuracy and integrity, we can face the future with optimism and look forward to sharing more exciting news in the weeks to come.
About Religion News Foundation
Religion News Foundation is a secular, educational and charitable 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization affiliated with the University of Missouri School of Journalism. RNF advances religious literacy through websites, resources, networks, training workshops, events and other programs tailor-made for media professionals, corporate clients and the general public. RNF facilitates and encourages discourse about religion in a neutral and informative way without endorsing or promoting any particular belief system or point of view. In 2011, RNF acquired Religion News Service, LLC, which is now an RNF subsidiary. RNF is affiliated with the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. For more information, visit religion.news.
About Religion News Service
Religion News Service is an independent, nonprofit and award-winning source of global news on religion, spirituality, culture and ethics, reported by a staff of professional journalists. Founded in 1934, RNS seeks to inform readers with objective reporting and insightful commentary and is relied upon by secular and faith-based news organizations in a number of countries. In 2011, the Religion News Foundation acquired RNS, which is now an RNF subsidiary. RNS is affiliated with the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. For more information, visit religionnews.com.