If you are a long-time reader of weekly news magazines (many old people like me will raise their hands), then it is has been bizarre trying to follow the bizarre reports coming out of the Newsweek newsroom.
We are, of course, talking about news reports ABOUT Newsweek, not reports BY Newsweek about others. Then again, there have also been headlines about Newsweek reports about events at Newsweek, and the fallout from all of the above. This New York Post headline (of course) captures the mood: " 'Bats–t crazy’ Newsweek staff meeting quickly goes off the rails."
Confused? To top it all off -- from a GetReligion perspective -- there are several very complicated religion angles (think arguments about the end of the world and a possible messiah) buried in the details here. Reporters need to be careful.
First, what the heckfire is going on? Let's walk into a CNN Money report for a few basics:
Employees at Newsweek have been told that editor-in-chief Bob Roe and executive editor Ken Li have been fired, sources with knowledge of the situation told CNN.
A reporter, Celeste Katz, who had written articles about financial issues at the magazine as well as an investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney's office into its parent company, Newsweek Media Group, was also let go, the sources said.
Katz declined to comment to CNN but tweeted on Monday afternoon, "My warmest thanks to the brave Newsweek editors and colleagues who supported and shared in my work -- especially our recent, difficult stories about the magazine itself -- before my dismissal today. I'll sleep well tonight... and I'm looking for a job!"
OK, it helps to know that, earlier, co-owner and Newsweek Media Group chair Etienne Uzac resigned, along with his wife, company finance director Marion Kim. Oh, and in January the Manhattan District Attorney's office raided Newsweek offices -- exiting with several computer servers. Then there was the BuzzFeed report about pre-Newsweek allegations about sexual abuse by chief content manager Dayan Candappa.
I think that's enough context. So now, the religion angles. Let's go back to the CNN report, with it's links back to New York Post reporting:
The New York Post, citing a source close to the company, reported last month that the Manhattan DA's probe is focused on the financial connection between former Newsweek Media Group executives and a Christian college, Olivet University. Olivet said in a statement last month that it is "inaccurate" to say there is a connection between the raid and the university. Uzac, Kim and other Newsweek Media Group executives have direct ties to the university.
Now, would you be happy with the wording of that paragraph if you were the leaders of the mainstream, evangelical Olivet Nazarene University (where I am sure officials have been placing a heavy stress in recent years on the word "Nazarene" when talking to the press)?
You see, that is not the same school as Olivet University in Riverside County, Calif., which was founded in 2000.
At this point, things get very complex and controversial -- because this Olivet campus is linked to David Jang, a Korean religious leader who has -- as noted in Christianity Today -- been "hailed by some of his followers as a messianic figure, a 'Second Coming Christ.' "
At this point, editors who are involved in covering this story really to pause and read this 2013 CT (see art at the top of this post) report: "The Second Coming Christ Controversy: Company with Ties to David Jang Buys 'Newsweek'." Then journalists seeking background material need to back up to this 2012 CT report: "The Second Coming Christ Controversy."
The bottom line: If journalists are going to mention the Olivet University angle, and it appears it will now be hard to avoid, then they need to be ready to handle some complicated theological questions linked, literally, to The End Times. They should not settle for language like this, care of The New York Post:
The Manhattan DA has been investigating possible ties between NMG and a Christian church community headed by the Rev. David Jang and a college founded by his followers, Olivet University.
Olivet has denied any connection between the two.
A "Christian church community"? Things are really that simple?
Some would say "yes," and choirs of mainstream Christian leaders would say "no."
So, all ye who are trying to keep straight the twisted, crazy tale of Newsweek, I have some bad news for you: It's way more complicated than you think.
So be careful out there.