Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Educate, engage, empower

While I was is school, when an important news story would break, my Beloved Instructor (He insisted we call him that. It was either that or we had to clean his office. If we had chosen to clean his office, I'd still be in Ontario.) Rob would have us review the online coverage of a story.

The recent shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church is the kind of story which we would discuss.

For me, a member of a faith community which isn't significantly different than the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, except for the explicit belief in God, the shooting has concerned me.

Inspired by Christ's example, given to us in the Gospels, my congregation has, from its inception, tried to be intentionally, explicitly welcoming to everyone.

We've tried to reduce or eliminate barriers for people of limited income, so all can participate fully in congregational life.

We've tried to be gender neutral, because of the way Christ included women in a society which excluded women.

We've tried to make sure that although we are a congregation with a significant population of young families and adult singles, our seniors are included in the life of the congregation.

And, we have more than practised tolerance of people of varied sexual orientation, we have embraced and made sure all feel welcome and safe in our church.

And so, when someone shoots up a church because it is too liberal, it concerns me.

It does not concern me that some may understand the Bible differently than me or my congregation. That is their right, and I believe the catholic (note the small "c" in "catholic" and find out why if you don't understand because it's not a spelling error) church is big enough for all of us to worship within, and certainly God's love and grace is sufficient.

It is possible our understanding of scripture is incorrect, but, if we are wrong, we are wrong based in love, God's greatest gift to humanity.

Enough about theology, let's talk journalism.
The coverage on the Knoxville News website is excellent.

They provided coverage in every form available online: text, video, PDF files of supplimental information and galleries of still images.

Admittedly, this must be the biggest story happening in Knoxville right now, but this coverage is better than what typically happens in Canada.

As important as the paper's output is, the paper is also getting input from it's readership and posing that online too.

This is the kind of reportage I am trained to provide.

It's not important to do simply because with current technology we can, but because a society must be informed about its community.

This isn't about the sensationalism of a shooting and a community's reaction, but about the debate that must happen as a result.

It's not the job of journalists to define the debate, but we can be the facilitators a society must have about how it wants to live.

This is why I want to be a journalist.

Now, will someone give me a job already!







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