My name is Samantha Cart, and this blog is my main assignment for my interactive journalism class at West Virginia University. Join me as I take my first (somewhat forced) steps into a new journalism reality and attempt to combine an interest of mine, religion, with the power and value of social media, all while learning the art of blogging. This blog will seek to explore how a range of religious organizations are utilizing social media. I hope to investigate which factions have embraced social media and how, whether or not the use of social media has satisfied the goals of those organizations (more members, greater community presence, etc.) and how the church/temple/mosque uses media both inside and outside regular worship services.
I hope to connect with an existing community of bloggers and readers interested in religion and social media that will utilize and view my blog as a reliable and enjoyable source of information. The purpose of this blog is not to criticize any religion or make a statement about accuracy, but rather to report on and suggest ways that organizations can further their missions and goals with the help of social media. In other words, if you believe it, you can tweet it!
The subject matter may seem cut and dry and maybe a little trivial, but through little more than a few Google searches, I have stumbled onto some amazing stories and exciting ideas on how to both report on religion as well as offer some ideas of my own about how social media can revive the church.
For example, in 2011, the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Philadelphia was on a downward spiral. Low attendance, limited funds and the threat of closing down looming overhead, the church desperately needed a way to stay connected. Church member Judith Gotwald started a blog that changed everything. With an average of 1300 weekly visitors, Gotwald’s blog is still alive and well, and she has completely redefined how one community views the structure of church.
As you may have guessed, I’m new to blogging. I am a self-admitted, hard-core traditionalist. Not only did I just get a smart phone, but I have been desperately holding on to the idea that I after I graduate with my master’s degree in journalism, I will get snatched up by a newspaper that is still delivering seven days a week to a stellar audience. Naturally they will be wowed by my objective, concise and powerful writing skills, my ability to use AP style will bring tears to their eyes and they will want to pay me an unbelievable salary.
Trust me— I am aware of my delusions. And if I hadn’t been before the start of this semester, day one of this class would have broken the news. I hope that throughout this semester, I can adapt the skills I’ve acquired at West Virginia University to a type of two-way communication that takes my writing to a new level and increases my digital presence.
Photo header courtesy of Symbiota.