Christian Chronicle

After media swamp grieving Texas town, one journalist suggests: ‘We can do better’

By Bobby Ross Jr. | GetReligion

Coverage of Sunday’s mass shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, sparked a must-read opinion piece by Dallas Morning News journalist Lauren McGaughy.

“Dear Sutherland Springs, you deserve an apology from the news media” is the headline atop McGaughy’s viral column.

I want to highlight McGaughy’s powerful words as we dive into GetReligion weekend think-piece territory a little early.

But first, a bit of personal background: My first experience with the national news media descending on a community struck by tragedy came more than two decades ago when the unfathomable happened in Oklahoma City.

On the morning of April 19, 1995, I had just stepped off The Oklahoman’s eighth-floor newsroom elevator when we heard a giant boom and saw billowing black smoke in the distance. I was one of the reporters dispatched to the scene.

In all, 168 people died in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building — the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil until 9/11 six years later.

When I arrived downtown, I parked with no problem. Hours later, I found my car surrounded by news vans and television satellite trucks. This was the biggest news story in the world — and would be for weeks.

Read the full column.

• • •

All of my GetReligion columns (November 2017):

• More intrigue at Liberty University over free speech, followed by more blurring of news and opinion. Published Nov. 1.

• Terror in Lower Manhattan: On the second day, news coverage of religion questions remains strong. Published Nov. 2.

• After #TexasChurchMassacre, it’s an obvious must-cover story — and major news orgs are doing so. Published Nov. 6.

• In New York Times, a bizarre story about a fake wedding (yes, there are holy ghosts). Published Nov. 7.

• Why are three Texas churches suing Uncle Sam over FEMA funding? Glad you asked. Published Nov. 9.

• After media horde swamps grieving Sutherland Springs, one journalist suggests: ‘We can do better.’ Published Nov. 10.

• Bring your Bible to church? Check. Bring your gun? Yes, say some leaders after Sutherland Springs. Published Nov. 13.

• NFL players raise concerns about Christian response to anthem protest: Please tell me more. Published Nov. 15.

• Don’t let the headline fool you: USA Today’s story on Masterpiece Cakeshop case is a tasty read. Published Nov. 16.

• The surprising secret about that in-depth Washington Post Magazine profile of Paula White. Published Nov. 17.

• Here we go again: The question of Roy Moore’s solid ‘evangelical’ support just won’t go away. Published Nov. 20.

• If, somehow, a story about deadly church shootings can be heartwarming, this is the one. Published Nov. 21.

• Style and substance: This award-winning religion writer, and this feature story, has them both. Published Nov. 22.

• Courier-Journal pins F-word (fundamentalist) on Southern Baptists, but thinks better of it. Published Nov. 27.

• New York Times gets a scoop (by phone!) with ‘first extensive interview’ of Sutherland Springs pastor. Published Nov. 28.

• In this congressional race, the question apparently is: Which candidate loves Jesus more? Published Nov. 30.

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