Reporting as a priestly calling

Iowa journalist, Presbyterian elder, says faith can’t be edited out of his stories

August 8, 2013

Mike Ferguson, a Presbyterian ruling elder and secular journalist

Mike Ferguson, a Presbyterian ruling elder and secular journalist, says his reporting and writing are always enriched by his religious faith. —Danny Bolin

LOUISVILLE

Mike Ferguson, a Presbyterian ruling elder and secular journalist, says his reporting and writing are always enriched by his religious faith. 

“You wouldn’t think a reporter would find much room for faith at work,” he said during the National Elders Conference luncheon Saturday (Aug. 3) at Big Tent

“… But the two ― having faith and working in a newsroom ― aren’t mutually exclusive. You’d be surprised how many of the folks that I’ve worked with are faithful, even active church members,” Ferguson said. “And in my experience, they don’t put their faith away during the week.”

Even if the word “faith” seldom appears in their stories. 

Ferguson is one of the reporters covering the Big Tent gathering for the Presbyterian News Service. He also writes for the Muscatine (Iowa) Journal, and produces a much-admired newsletter, Out and About, for the Presbytery of East Iowa. 

“I think most reporters enter the business thinking they’ll change the world by creating transparency or whistleblowing, or at least casting a light on good news,” he said. 

“After a while, we scale our vision back, thinking we might fix just the little part of the world where we live and report from,” he added. “My walk with God has made me more optimistic that helping readers wrestle with important issues does some good.” 

He said setting his faith aside would take something essential away from his stories. 

“Newsrooms are places where news people put their heads together every morning to talk about doing the stories that folks all over town will be talking about the next day,” Ferguson said. “How could God not bless such an endeavor?”

He concluded: “Part of our job is to hold a mirror up to our community and ask, ‘Is this the community we want to be?’ It’s almost a priestly calling, and it’s something I have enjoyed making a career out of.”

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