Journalists are expected to be professional and to leave outside influences or ideas checked at the door when producing a story... but religion? Is that just too ingrained into what a person is, how a person defines him/herself? I believe it is entirely possible to reconcile one's personal religious beliefs with the rigorous objectivity demands of the career.
"The answer to journalistic problems is almost always journalist solutions," journalist Terry Mattingly says. "Journalists get into trouble in covering religion news by applying non-jounalistic solutions. Just do more religion coverage and use a wide array of sources."
I think religion has become such a taboo subject, with so much opportunity to offend people, that journalists actively try to steer clear of such subjects so as not to harm their reputations, their newspapers' reputations, etc.
And, while journalism and religion are very similar in that they are both seeking truth, "journalism is usually about the here and now while religion is often about the spiritual realm and the hereafter" and the "end" is not so quickly found out or discovered. These distinct differences in religion and journalism make them difficult to comprehend together. Religion is based off of faith, whereas journalism is based off of facts and proofs.
So if they are so incredibly different, why bother to combine them? Well that's obvious: religious news is still news, perhaps more so now than ever before with 9/11, a Mormon presidential candidate, etc. While religion may not be a part of every day life for everyone, and although not everyone worships the same God or god in the same way or at the same time, everyone is affected by religion--which makes it news.
It's sad really that so many journalists try not to get involved in religious stories for fear of backlash from audiences. As long as journalists are covering the story in a respectful, unbiased fashion, there should really be no issue. Journalists need to be professional and approach the story in an appropriate way. Never should a story's integrity be jeopardized because a journalist, who is supposed to be honest and fair, wasn't able to be just that.