While working my way through what became the farewell to Billy Graham week (which will continue as the funeral approaches), I kept watching the tsunami of press coverage linked to the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Frankly, I have been stunned. Faithful GetReligion readers will know that I back many forms of gun control that would infuriate the cultural right. (This is simplistic, but I would like to see guns treated like cars, controlled with a training-testing-license formula. Also, I'm from hunting-crazy Texas, but I don't see why civilians need military level hardware.)
What has stunned me is the degree to which some on the left (think CNN) seem determined to destroy any hope for serious compromise. Please read this David French commentary for one view of where all of this screaming could take us.
What does this have to do with religion and religion-news coverage?
Well, check out this New York Times story that ran several days ago under the headline: "Gunfire Erupts at a School. Leaders Offer Prayers. Children Are Buried. Repeat."
As you read it, please ask yourself this question: Is this a news story?
I have been checking, day after day, to see if the principalities and powers at the Times have retroactively put an "Analysis" or even "Commentary" label on this piece. They have not.
If this is a news story (I think it is reported commentary and it should have been labeled as such), then I think it can be considered a kind of Rosetta Stone that media critics of all kinds can use to help break down and interpret much of the "reporting" that is being done linked to this torrid debate.
Once again, we see a basic journalistic formula that can be summarized as "thoughts and prayers" Americans vs. rational Americans who don't want to see students slaughtered.
Think about that. Might there be people out there who believe in the power of prayer, but who also want to see gun-control compromises take place (as well as discussions of mental health, the side effects of many medications, school security improvements, etc.) in this trouble land of ours?
Let me state this as a basic journalism question: If compromise is going to happen -- real change -- then wouldn't it be important to find voices in the middle of the armed camps on the cultural left and right?
Now, with that as prologue, what is happening in this Times sermon?