Chris Hedlin F'21

Chris  Hedlin

PublicSource

Leading Edge Fellowships 2021
PublicSource
Appointed to PublicSource for the project "Reporting on Faith and Religion in Pittsburgh Amid the Pandemic"
PhD, English, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

PublicSource inspires critical thinking and bold ideas about Pittsburgh through journalism rooted in facts, diverse voices and pursuit of transparency. The PublicSource newsroom—founded in 2011—is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, digital-first media organization dedicated to serving Pittsburgh and the region. PublicSource covers K-12 education, local government, economic development, the environment, health and public safety. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on religious communities and institutions in the Pittsburgh area. In just a few months, the churches, schools, temples and other places of worship have had to pivot and figure out how to reimagine Sunday schools, sermons, Ramadan celebrations, baptism ceremonies, and funerals. In Pittsburgh, changing markets and coronavirus shutdowns in March led to a halt of distribution for a 166-year-old Diocese of Pittsburgh publication, shrinking congregations and shut down parishes. Through a project based in journalism and research, the Leading Edge Fellow will play key role as we devise ways to measure the impact on the sense of religious identity in our area. Some of the questions the fellow will explore with our team include: How are religious institutions managing (or not) to preserve and foster faith and religious identity in the times of the pandemic in the Pittsburgh region? How has the pandemic affected the physical footprint of religious institutions? And, what social issues (e.g. child care and senior isolation amid COVID-19, race relations, addiction recovery, etc.) are religious institutions expanding into or adjusting their work to because of the pandemic? The fellow’s research, analysis, and reporting will serve a large population of the Pittsburgh region who are engaged with places of worship and religious concepts at a time when the pandemic is isolating many from their communities and information gaps are broadening.