What Is The Pagan Blogosphere? What Role Does It Serve?

Today, at the Patheos Pagan Channel, Christine Kraemer interviews Anne Newkirk Niven, editor and publisher of Witches & Pagans Magazine, about the current state of Pagan media (among other things). During the interview, Niven expounds on blogs within the umbrella of Pagan media, and the role they serve. Today, blogs fill a specific niche: real-time, fast-paced information. No print media can keep up with the blogosphere; on the other hoof, even the most super-heated debate in the legendary Green Egg forum (letters to the editor) never got as crazily divisive as what happens in the comment-rich, disinhibited atmosphere of the Web. Pagans are an information-hungry group of people; reading led many, if not most, of us onto our paths.

Pagan Organizations: Responding to Good News and Bad News

Every single Pagan organization that aspires to serve its chosen community, whether that community is local, regional, national, or even international, needs someone who will interact with the press (and social media). If you don’t, or if it’s seen as an odious task that’s always last on the list, or it it takes months to craft a statement, you become as good as mute to the very people you wish to serve. Your organization defaults to letting other people shape the discourse on issues that your community may have strong opinions about.  If you look at any well-organized religious organization, like the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, one thing that becomes obviously very quickly is that they are constantly framing discussions that concern them for their audience. Everything on the site is an effort to define themselves to visitors so that others have a harder time defining them in ways they can’t control (or don’t like).

The Future of Pagan Gatherings: Virtual and Local?

This year Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG), a Midwest Pagan festival that’s been running for more than 30 years, broke attendance records, drawing over 1000 people to the week-long event. The West Coast Pagan convention PantheaCon, held each February in San Jose, California, has gotten so popular that they’ve introduced a new reservations system to prevent individuals from gaming the system. Pagan-friendly fantasy-oriented events like Faerieworlds are anticipating record-breaking numbers this Summer, and even brand-new Pagan events like Paganicon in Minnesota are growing at a healthy rate. It seems like Pagan festivals and conventions, at least in the United States, are doing great, but are the days of the large Pagan event that draws a national or even international audience numbered? That’s what Frater Barrabbas Tiresius at the Talking About Ritual Magick blog argues.

How Pagans Got Their News Before the Internet

Recently, the magazine Witches & Pagans, a print periodical that has served the Pagan community for many years (albeit under a different name), added the feed for this site (with my permission) to their website. I see this as somewhat momentous, as it cements, at least in my mind, the new normal of Pagan-oriented media in the 21st century. There will always be a place for print magazines and journals in our community, see newer efforts like Modern Witch Magazine or Abraxas as proof, but of-the-moment breaking news and updates on developing stories has moved to the Internet. This isn’t a criticism of magazines, simply a statement that our strengths lie in different directions. Today, a large percentage of Pagans find out about what’s happening regarding their co-religionists online, either from blogs like mine, or on email lists and social networking sites.

Pagan News, Grassroots Journalism, and the Mainstream Media

Today the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s education blogger, Maureen Downey, took notice of the now-resolved difficulties faced by the Turner family of Bowden, Georgia, whose son, Christopher (11), was facing religiously-motivated harassment by his school. “… some argue that not all religions are met with hostility in the classroom, only those far outside the mainstream. That complaint was made this month via an Internet campaign on behalf of a pagan family in Carroll County. Stephanie Turner said her 11-year-old son was singled out and punished after he took off the neopagan holiday of Samhain. Once the boy returned to class, his teacher allegedly questioned him and said,  ‘Paganism is not a religion.'”
While this issue has been resolved since December 14th, I’m certainly not going to begrudge the AJC for jumping on this story so late, any mainstream press attention to victories for the equal rights and treatment of Pagans is welcome.