Religion News Service — a news service of record for newspapers, magazines, broadcast organizations covering religion, ethics and spirituality around the world — has replaced its editor-in-chief in what appears to be a major shakeup of the award-winning non-profit founded in 1934.
RNS — owned by a non-profit limited liability corporation affiliated with the University of Missouri — announced April 24 the appointment of veteran journalist G. Jeffrey MacDonald as interim editor-in-chief.
An RNS correspondent for more than 20 years, MacDonald replaces Jerome Socolovsky, a religion reporter and editor who worked previously for Voice of America, National Public Radio, The Associated Press and United Press International.
Hired in 2015, Socolovsky succeeded Kevin Eckstrom, who served as editor-in-chief from 2006 to 2015.
Socolovsky said on Twitter he is no longer at RNS and “that’s about all I can say.” He called it “an honor to lead such a dazzling news team.”
Kimberly Winston, a San Francisco-area journalist covering atheism and freethought, tweeted April 23, “I am sorry and sickened to report that I just resigned from RNS.”
Winston, who worked as a national correspondent for RNS the last five years and a freelancer “for maybe a half dozen more” called her time with the agency “the highlight of my career, my dream job and my dream team.”
Lauren Markoe, the managing editor who joined RNS as a national reporter in 2011, confirmed to Baptist News Global “that with great sadness,” she resigned Tuesday, May 24.
MacDonald — a journalist and author who has covered stories for national publications including Time, Washington Post, USA Today, Boston Globe and Christian Science Monitor — said he is “grateful to have this opportunity to work even more closely with some of the best religion journalists in the business.”
“Religion News Service holds an important place in the landscape of religion coverage and I’m honored to be given this opportunity to help guide it at this pivotal time,” MacDonald said. “I deeply value the organization and its significant contributions to religious literacy and interfaith dialogue, in America and internationally.”
Tom Gallagher, CEO of the Religion News Foundation and RNS publisher since November 2016, said MacDonald’s “excellent character, religion expertise, and journalism experience make him a valuable addition to our team.”
RNS recently won “overall excellence/best in class” in the news service category in the 2017 awards competition sponsored by Associated Church Press.