Religion Unplugged

This Catholic journalist has witnessed 400-plus executions but won’t say if he approves

By Bobby Ross Jr. | GetReligion

It’s almost incomprehensible: Associated Press journalist Michael Graczyk has served as a media witness for more than 400 executions.

When I worked in AP’s Dallas bureau from 2003 to 2005, Graczyk was a Houston-based colleague of mine — and a great guy.

Graczyk, 68, is making headlines this week because of his retirement after 46 years with the news service.

The Dallas Morning News featured the veteran newsman on today’s front page. The Washington Post had a story on him Tuesday. And AP got the scoop on Graczyk’s plans. No surprise there, right?

All of the interviews, of course, are fascinating. And all paint a portrait of an accurate, fair-minded journalist: In hundreds of cases, Graczyk has made it a point to interview condemned inmates who were willing. But not only that, he also has given victims’ relatives an opportunity to speak, if they so desired.

Here’s a journalist who epitomizes the best of his profession.

Read the full column.

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All of my GetReligion columns (August 2018):

• This journalist — a Catholic — has witnessed 400-plus executions, but he won’t say if he approves. Published Aug. 2.

• Friday Five: RNS council, execution witness, McCarrick scandal, gamer pastor and more. Published Aug. 3.

• Holy ghosts haunt Houston Chronicle’s front-page profile of former Astros pitching great J.R. Richard. Published Aug. 6.

• The religion behind why some people of faith support the death penalty — and why others don’t. Published Aug. 8.

• What were the ‘religious reasons’ why a couple allegedly refused to get help for their infant? Published Aug. 9.

• Friday Five: Lifetime achievement winner, Willow Creek drama, Spikeball Mennonites and more. Published Aug. 10.

• ‘The hardest story I’ve ever written’: Journalist masterfully tells story of church gunman’s wife. Published Aug. 13.

• Exposed: A few questions about that breastfeeding mother given an apology by a Michigan church. Published Aug. 14.

• A whole lot of R-E-S-P-E-C-T for Aretha Franklin, the preacher’s daughter who became ‘Queen of Soul.’ Published Aug. 16.

• Friday Five: New editor for RNS, Sutherland Springs gunman’s wife, Pennsylvania grand jury and more. Published Aug. 17.

• Monday Mix: Reeling Penn parish, un-Celebrity Jimmy Carter, Satan in Arkansas and more. Published Aug. 20.

Holy ghost in Alabama: NYT interviews white pastor friend of Rosa Parks, neglects to ask about his faith. Published Aug. 21.

• Love for people drives major-league catcher to help, but what role does his faith play? Published Aug. 23.

• Friday Five: Mr. Rogers block party, ‘Uncle Ted’ saga, Muslim Republican, sinful church sign and more. Published Aug. 24.

• Monday Mix: Vatican bombshell, John McCain’s faith, Bibles at Marriott, blue Texas and more. Published Aug. 27.

• And journalists yawned: Trump hosts state-like White House dinner for 100 evangelical leaders. Published Aug. 28.

• Intrigue about Bible given to Trump: Southern Baptist Convention president says he didn’t sign it. Published Aug. 30.

Friday Five: Aretha’s funeral, Trump’s evangelicals, Catholic sex abuse, what to call Mormons and more. Published Aug. 31.

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