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The Merchants of Chaos

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by chilidog75, Aug 4, 2009.

  1. chilidog75

    chilidog75 Member

    I apologize if this has been discussed before, but I don't remember seeing this ad (on this page) until today.
    So I clicked on it and it's basically a blow-by-blow (completely biased by the way) account a three-part series the St. Pete Times ran on the Church of Crazy ....er, Scientology.

    It's incredibly long, and a wee-bit creepy. But it has some valid contentions --- most notably, that the St. Pete staff asked for an interview with the leader of the church (mainly so he could deny allegations), was granted a time for that interview (admittedly seven weeks later) and then the next week cancelled the interview and ran the story anyway.

    Thought it might be a good jounalistic discussion --- how much time do you give an interview subject to respond to a story? Also, how much trust do you put into sources that CLEARLY have an agenda? Though, as best I can tell, the Freedom Magazine piece doesn't really attack the allegations at all --- just the ones making the allegations.
  2. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    What ad?
  3. sportsguydave

    sportsguydave Active Member

    Banner ad on the top and right of the page.

    Subscribers don't see ads, so that's probably why you aren't seeing it.
  4. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    Read the St. Pete Times story, man.


    On May 13, the Times asked to interview Miscavige, in person or by phone, and renewed the request repeatedly the past five weeks. Church officials said Miscavige's schedule would not permit an interview before July.

    At 5:50 p.m. Saturday, Miscavige e-mailed the Times to protest the newspaper's decision to publish instead of waiting until he was available. His letter said he would produce information "annihilating the credibility'' of the defectors. Beloved by millions of Scientologists, church spokesmen say, Miscavige has guided the church through a quarter-century of growth.

    That story is amazing throughout with its description of the beatings and the death of the woman who was held in the hotel for more than two weeks. If you think the Times somehow violated its professional standards, a journalism board probably isn't the place for you. And if you give an ounce of credibility to those lunatics' response, Planet Earth isn't the place for you.
  5. chilidog75

    chilidog75 Member

    When did I say the Times violated anything?
    I wondered how long is too long to wait for an interview ---- especially when the person you're trying to interview is THE LEADER of the church you're investigating. Apparently seven weeks is too long for the Times. Can't say I blame them.

    And like I said, the article attacked the ones MAKING the allegations (calling one an 'adulteress,' another a 'con man,' etc.) more than the allegations themselves. So I didn't give the denial portion of the story much credibility at all.
  6. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    The Times has always had great investigative reporters, combine that with Scientology's endless supply of weirdness and it's almost too easy. Great work here.
  7. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member

    I am fairly certain that was spnited's point. Some of the subscribers on here like to tweak those of us who have not followed their example. More than fair given how often spnited himself is tweaked for various reasons. :)
  8. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    And it is a fine example.
  9. sportsguydave

    sportsguydave Active Member

    Oh .. :D
  10. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    The leader wasn't saying, get back to me in a couple days when I get back from vacation. He clearly was stalling.

    Sometimes sources have to understand you need to go when you go. I've found it effective with stalling sources to inform them (or their representatives) that the story is going at a certain point, whether or not they talk (this is after repeated attempts to get an interview). I also give them the chance to call back and say, flat-out, I'm not interested.

    I covered Indiana basketball at the IU paper when Bob Knight coached and wouldn't talk to us. If I waited for him on every story, we would have never printed anything.
  11. chilidog75

    chilidog75 Member

    Bob, I agree with everything you wrote.
    My only counter would be --- if you've been working on the story since February, it's already the middle of June and you've got an interview "scheduled" with THE central figure of your story on July 6 --- would it be understandable to wait a few more weeks? Just to get his voice in there?

    It's not like the Times was going to get beat on this thing. It wasn't a Florida Gator football commit or anything timely (and incredibly important) like that.
  12. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    No. The paper gave him five weeks. It was clear he was blowing them off.
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