RNA members vote to change name to Religion News Association

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Successful bylaws measure aims to be more inclusive of membership makeup

RNACOLUMBIA, MO — Effective July 1, the Religion Newswriters Association and Religion Newswriters Foundation will be called Religion News Association (RNA) and Religion News Foundation (RNF), respectively. By a wide margin, voting members approved a bylaws measure this week to update the monikers.

The change comes at a time when RNA’s membership makeup is its most diverse. As the media landscape has morphed, converged and digitized over the last four decades, so, too, has RNA’s membership. Now, in addition to newspaper reporters and editors, its primary members hail from television, radio, online, magazine, publishing and education fields and they engage in reporting, writing, editing, photography, design, producing and disseminating religion news.

This is the second time the organization has revamped its name. In 1971, members voted to change the “R” in RNA from “Religious” to “Religion” to emphasize the organization’s non-sectarian perspective.

This year the RNA Board of Directors saw a similar need to tweak the “N” — in order to stress the fact that “writing” was just one of the many jobs its members undertake each day.

“Who hasn’t admired a photograph or the imagery of a documentary and thought the person behind the camera was meant to cover religion?” said RNA President Manya Brachear Pashman. “Those colleagues and others should be wholly included in our ranks. Their indelible images are one of the many examples of fine work that make this beat meaningful — which is what RNA is all about — championing one of journalism’s most meaningful beats.”

RNA’s members overwhelmingly agree.

John Greco, a television freelancer and contributing producer to PBS’ “Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly” said the name was due for an update.

“Even though I write scripts, ‘newswriters’ has a whiff of ink-stained wretch about it,” he said.  “I think Religion News Association is more inclusive of wretches like me.”

Branding updates will be rolled out over the next two months with plans for a new logo and more in place by the organization’s annual conference Sept. 22–24 in Silver Spring, Md.

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