When I began to write for The Wild Hunt, one of the first things I was asked by friend outside the Pagan community was, “What exactly is ‘Pagan news?'”
My answer was, “You wouldn’t ask that question if the word ‘Pagan’ was replaced with ‘Jewish.’”
At least in my Miami circles, there’s no doubt what our Jewish newspapers cover: news about Jews and Judaism that comes from or impacts the Jewish community. That might include commentary about events and it might include some related stories, but every story emerges from or intersects with the Jewish community. That could be stories about sampling Ashkenazi DNA or a reflection about the Shoah and contemporary refugee crises or work-arounds for electricity use on different days of the week (In some Jewish denominations, the use of electricity on Shabbat is generally forbidden as interpreted they interpret Halacha). In our community, it could be stories about traveling to Iceland, representation of Witches in media, or Pagans are conducting food drives.
How then could “Pagan news” be a confusing term? It’s only got two words in it. But it’s the first word that causes problems: embedded in that word is a millennium-long campaign that subverts “Pagan” as a social identifier of a group that, at minimum, deserves tolerance. Synonyms for Pagan in most dictionaries include Heathen (good choice), idolater (what?), infidel (what?), and irreligious (what?). The point is that, as most readers know, “Pagan”, as a word, enters modernity largely as a pejorative term only recently reclaimed by religious minorities.
Those biases underscore our community’s need for a news source. It is one way we push back.
There is another way: staying focused on the journalistic process. The team at The Wild Hunt has neither the inclination nor the resources for journalism that doesn’t rely on evidence. Sometimes, that evidence is unattainable because of costs or privacy. But we try to work the story, following journalistic procedures in our news and strengthening our skills with each paragraph we write. We slip every now and then, but we struggle to return to the core of the journalistic process that is focused on truth and verification.
It is hard, and it is weighty – I have witnessed the process firsthand with my colleagues here for years. We hear about potential stories all the time regarding serious matters; we hear things that make us angry, things that are abusive, appalling, painful, and embarrassing, things that range from the ridiculous to the salacious to the repugnant.
We do our best to investigate, but our job is to serve as reporters, not police. We try to fulfill our obligations and commitment as the Fourth Estate to monitor power in our community, maintaining a focus on verification and fact-checking as we pursue the truth.
We will try to be proportional and comprehensive in that task as well. Sometimes, we don’t like it and, as a I wrote a few weeks ago, sometimes neither will you. Sometimes we have to cover something that we personally detest. Reporters cover all sorts of abominations that they do not endorse: war, famine, disease and suffering. They aren’t giving voice to famine- they are letting us know it is happening.
So, what is Pagan news?
Well – it is the news: information we share that meets the standard of being new, interesting, and significant. It is information about progress, tragedies, disasters, accomplishments, and crime. It’s about the famous and the unknown. Sometimes it’s about sex and health and religion, and sometimes it will be about cooking or the weather.
The news The Wild Hunt covers will always intersect with or emerge from our community. In that sense, we work to fulfill the function of community journalism: we tell the story so our readers can remain informed, so we can take action, so we can work on building community together.
The Wild Hunt is part of that community togetherness- the infrastructure that Pagans have been building for decades. All parts of that infrastructure are still fragile, from educational resources like Cherry Hill Seminary and Ardantane to libraries like Adocentyn Research Library and The New Alexandrian Library to mature organizations such as Covenant of the Goddess, Circle Sanctuary The Troth and Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship to Pagan businesses, Pagan publishers and Pagan festivals. There are many others to name – they are simply everywhere. We are a collective social architecture that is still developing and under-funded, but none of us lack commitment to our community.
The Wild Hunt is one of the pieces of our community that argues against 1,500 years of propaganda about our collective resources and capacity.
So, what is Pagan news, again?
It’s news. News about us. News that impacts us presented truthfully and verifiably; or, as a journalistic luminary Walter Cronkite often said, “the way it is.”