The second storytelling rule: Get the name of the church (click the link to learn the first)

"The first storytelling rule: Get the name of the dog."

That terrific advice for journalists comes courtesy of Roy Peter Clark, the longtime writing coach best known for his work with the Poynter Institute.

The gist of Clark's idea: If the reporter remembers to ask the dog's name, then "he or she will be curious enough and attentive enough to gather all the relevant details in their epiphanic particularity."

To move that thought into the GetReligion realm, let's consider a second rule: Get the name of the church.

Adherence to that rule would have improved The Associated Press' recent coverage of an Iraqi man who helped the U.S. military but is now facing deportation:

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An Iraqi man who fled to the U.S. during the Gulf War and trained tens of thousands of American soldiers is facing deportation orders that could lead to his death in his homeland, his supporters say.
Kadhim Al-bumohammed, 64, decided to seek refuge Thursday inside a New Mexico church. He announced through his attorney that he would defy a federal immigration order to appear for a hearing where he was expected to be detained for deportation over a domestic-violence conviction in California.
"After consulting with his family, and with other members of the faith community, (Al-bumohammed) has chosen to seek sanctuary with the faith community," Rebecca Kitson, his lawyer, said to a cheering crowd outside Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices in Albuquerque.
Immigration officials typically don't make deportation arrests in churches and other "sensitive areas" such as schools and churches.

For the second time a week (here's the first), I'm going to turn to a tip from Catholic media professional Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz for helpful commentary:

OK, so he's taking refuge in a church in New Mexico. Put your readers up to a challenge — anyone who can find the name of the church or even an indication of what denomination it is gets a free GetReligion mug or T-shirt.

To be the best of my knowledge, we actually don't have any GetReligion mugs or T-shirts, but the question remains relevant.

I did a bit of Googling and found mention of the church Al-bumohammed had been — and perhaps still is. This is from an Albuquerque Journal story published late last month:

Al-bumohammed said he has four U.S.-born children ages 17 to 21. He is living for now at the Albuquerque Friends Meeting House, a Quaker church in Downtown Albuquerque, Kitson said.
“He doesn’t want to be arrested in the middle of the night and he doesn’t want his kids to witness that,” she said.

Certainly, knowing the name of the church — and why the church is offering sanctuary to Al-bumohammed — would be important and interesting to readers. Right?

Hey AP, please don't forget the second storytelling rule: Get the name of the church.


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