After 27 years Ruth Gledhill is bowing out as the final daily Religious Affairs Correspondent on Fleet Street. Although she argues that the quality of religious affairs reporting is high, I tend to think she is defending the indefensible. Very few journalists understand the church or mosque, have any sympathy for religious sensibilities and have any rounded understanding of theology or religious history. Ruth has done a very good job as an interpreter of religious traditions few people nowadays understand.
Having said that there are still a number of distinguished journalists who have filled the religious affairs brief at one point or another who still work in the industry, often in senior positions. So for the time being the sky will not fall in. But accuracy in religious affairs reporting will be sacrificed without specialists.
Finally, Ruth will be missed as religion correspondent. She did her job well – to get up the nose of the hierarchy and get at the truth in spite of the Church of England’s often disastrous policy of secrecy. Her greatest scoop was probably being first with the news that Rowan Williams was to be the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury but overall the long-term benefit of her scrutiny was to get the Church of England to open up and behave more decently.