Our main mission at the Pagan Newswire Collective is to provide primary source reporting for our local communities. A secondary mission is to assist mainstream reporters and news organizations when they are covering news that touches on Paganism. Most of the time you never know about the article because, after talking with us, they realize the story they thought they had doesn’t really exist. That’s a good thing. You wouldn’t believe what we are approached with from time to time. Other times we give reporters information about Paganism, point them towards reputable persons to interview, and do basic research for them. This is an invaluable service for reporters, who often know little to nothing about Paganism and have extremely tight deadlines. We do this to promote better, more nuanced mainstream reporting on issues that affect us.
Thursday the Pagan Newswire Collective was contacted by Matt Nestel, a reporter for the New York Post, who needed help on an article about New York Councilman Dan Halloran. Halloran, and five other elected officials, are accused of accepting bribes and attempting to rig an election. What makes this germane to Pagans is that Halloran is Theodish, which is a tribal form of Heathenry. The reporter was looking for assistance on several things – understanding the religion, seeing if Halloran’s alleged actions were influenced by his religion, and interviewing Heathens who know Halloran.
To his credit, Nestel spent the better part of two days researching Theodism. That’s a considerable amount of time in the news industry. He asked intelligent questions, asked for more information on areas he still didn’t understand, and requested multiple sources to interview. We spent just over 4 hour son the phone with him during the course of two days answering his questions. We connected him to some really fantastic, knowledgeable people to interview. Sources to read to learn more about the religion of Theodism. Then we stepped back and hoped our assistance wasn’t in vain. We can help, but we can’t write the article for the reporter.
So how did Nestel’s article turn out? The first sentence read, “The city councilman who bungled his way into federal bribery charges is also a total bonehead in his kooky heathen religion — whose members wear medieval garb, make sacrifices to multiple gods and compete in combat games.”
As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but can’t make ’em drink.