May 24, 2022

Want to read a disturbing, but spot-on lede?

This is from Christianity Today’s Kate Shellnutt:

Armed with a secret list of more than 700 abusive pastors, Southern Baptist leaders chose to protect the denomination from lawsuits rather than protect the people in their churches from further abuse.

A stunning report released over the weekend said the Southern Baptist Convention suppressed allegations of sexual abuse by clergy over two decades. After a seven-month investigation, Guidepost Solutions — an independent firm hired by the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptists — said survivors and others shared allegations of abuse with the Executive Committee “only to be met, time and time again, with resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility from some within the EC.”

The Executive Committee will meet today to discuss the findings. SBC president Ed Litton told The New York Times that the report was “far worse” than he anticipated. He added, “We knew it was coming … (but) it still is very challenging and surprising — shocking — to have to face these realities.”

The Washington Post’s Sarah Pulliam Bailey wrote, “The report — the first investigation of its kind in a massive Protestant denomination like the SBC — is expected to send shock waves throughout a conservative Christian community that has had intense internal battles over how to handle sex abuse. The 13 million-member denomination, along with other religious institutions in the United States, has struggled with declining membership for the past 15 years. Its leaders have long resisted comparisons between its sexual abuse crisis and that of the Catholic Church, saying the total number of abuse cases among Southern Baptists was small.”

Local journalism played a role in this story coming to light. The Associated Press’ Deepa Bharath, Holly Meyer and David Crary wrote, “The sex abuse scandal was thrust into the spotlight in 2019 by a landmark report from the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News documenting hundreds of cases in Southern Baptist churches, including several in which alleged perpetrators remained in ministry.”

New York University professor and media observer Jay Rosen tweeted, “If you cheered for the movie Spotlight when it won an academy award, you will want to read this.” He then linked to the latest Chronicle story about the just-released report.

The reaction?

Christianity Today’s Russell Moore wrote, “I was wrong to call sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention a crisis. Crisis is too small a word. It is an apocalypse.” He later added, “It’s even more than just a crime. It’s blasphemy. And anyone who cares about heaven ought to be mad as hell.”

The Atlantic’s David French called the report a “calamity,” adding “Still too many Christians are in denial. Most churches are scandal-free, they’ll say. Most pastors are men of integrity, they’ll argue. But how many bad apples must we pluck before we recognize that the orchard is diseased?”

Mapping out the future

Here’s useful and detailed work from New York magazine. It’s Irin Carmon, with reporting from Camille Squires and Alice Markham-Cantor, with “The Future of Abortions in America An access map.” New York Magazine — and The Cut — have removed the paywall for this piece, and others that address abortion care.

In this piece, there’s a map that changes as Carmon goes over where abortion clinics are located and what could change, state by state, if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Primary night

Georgia Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, Pool, File)

Tonight is another primary night with races in Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas. One race to watch is in Georgia as controversial Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene faces five primary challengers. Over the weekend, CNN’s Simone Pathe wrote, “This working mom is Republicans’ best shot at unseating Marjorie Taylor Greene — if they want to.”

The story was about Jennifer Strahan. As Pathe noted, “A first-time candidate and the most formidable of Greene’s five primary opponents, Strahan has the backing of the Republican Jewish Coalition PAC and the PACs of some major local and national businesses, including UPS and International Paper. VIEW PAC — the leading organization dedicated to recruiting and electing Republican women to Congress — is opposing an incumbent for the first time by endorsing Strahan against Greene.”

But, to be clear, Greene is still popular among many voters in her district. They might not like her demeanor, but they do like her politics. As Pathe wrote, “​​And while Greene’s outspokenness seems to have turned some voters off, for her supporters, it’s exactly what they like about her and Trump — reflecting a burgeoning divide over whether elected officials should work within traditional norms or blow them up.”

Greene’s Congressional seat is not the only race to watch in Georgia. In her “5-Minute Fix” newsletter, The Washington Post’s Amber Phillips wrote, “Donald Trump became the first Republican president to lose Georgia since 1992, and as a result, he is heavily focused on the state to prove that the Republican Party supports his false claims of election fraud. He’s recruited and boosted challengers to try to knock out the top Republicans in Georgia who upheld Joe Biden’s win there, thereby making the primary almost entirely about election fraud.”

The latest notable journalism from Russia-Ukraine

I haven’t been linking to the latest on Russia’s war against Ukraine in recent newsletters. Here are a few stories that you should catch up on:

Reputation vs. reality?

Roger Lynch, CEO of Condé Nast. (Courtesy: The New York Times)

Roger Lynch, CEO of Condé Nast, is the guest on Kara Swisher’s latest “Sway” podcast for The New York Times.

Lynch talked about the culture at Condé Nast that was, in his words, “very internally competitive and especially in the U.S. business and sort of reputation of sharp elbows.”

Lynch told Swisher, “And I just came in (in 2019), I was like, I don’t want to work in a place like that. It’s not — and that doesn’t mean that it can’t be successful with that culture. I can’t lead a company like that. I don’t believe in it. And I don’t want people around me who want to perpetuate a culture like that. So it’s why 80% of the executive team at the company is new since I joined. A lot of that was around culture change.”

Swisher then noted that someone who was famous for that kind of “attitude” was (is?) Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue and global chief content officer for Condé Nast.

Lynch said, “Well, look, it’s not how I find her at all. And I thought I knew her by reputation before I joined, and I found out I didn’t know her at all, because I find her as being one of the most collaborative, business-focused executives, who also happens to be unbelievably creative. When I joined and I found that the other executives also found her that way, I thought, oh, there’s something there. OK, maybe this reputation — I have no idea. I didn’t work with her 20, 30 years ago. The only thing I can say is the last three years, I found her to be very different from what I expected.”

When asked how Wintour reacted to Lynch wanting to change the culture, he told Swisher, “She was one of the biggest proponents. She knew it had to change. I mean, that’s the amazing thing about her, is that she’s always looking to the future and how things need to change for the future. And so she actually was one of the most important people in helping lead the transformation of all of the editorial teams globally, which is the core of what we do.”

Revisiting a prediction

Back in 2019, my colleague, Rick Edmonds, who is Poynter’s media business analyst, predicted — “in slightly hedged fashion,” as he put it — that USA Today’s print edition would fold within two years as Gannett and GateHouse completed a merger of their 250-plus regional titles.

Hey, give Edmonds credit. His latest story for Poynter starts with this: “I was wrong, wrong, wrong.”

He adds, “Fast forward to May 2022, and that hasn’t happened. USA Today’s print revenues do make up an ever-shrinking share of the total, as Gannett pursues a quicker pace of digital transformation. There are no signs, though, that management plans to kill the print version anytime soon.”

Check out Edmonds’ detailed story, as he talks to Maribel Perez Wadsworth, USA Today publisher and president of news for Gannett, and looks at how USA Today has done over the past three years and what’s in store for the future.

The right call

Kudos to New York City sports radio host Brandon Tierney for canceling an interview with a former New York Yankees player and current broadcaster Paul O’Neill because O’Neill was not going to answer questions about a controversy that happened over the weekend.

Here’s the setup. Over the weekend, Tim Anderson of the Chicago White Sox and Josh Donaldson of the Yankees had a disagreement about an in-game exchange. Anderson, who is Black, said Donaldson, who is white, said to him, “What’s up, Jackie?” Jackie was a reference to Jackie Robinson, who became Major League Baseball’s first Black player in 1947.

Donaldson said Anderson compared himself to Robinson in a 2019 Sports Illustrated article and claimed he and Anderson have joked about that in the past. Anderson, however, said the comment was “disrespectful” and “unnecessary.” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said the comment was “racist.” (You can read more about it here.)

So fast-forward to Monday. O’Neill was supposed to go on “Tiki & Tierney” — a radio show on New York’s popular WFAN that Tierney co-hosts with former New York Giants player Tiki Barber. O’Neill just co-wrote a book and was going on “Tiki & Tierney” to promote the book.

With O’Neill set to join the show on Zoom, Tierney canceled the interview … and had every reason to. According to New York Post sports media critic Andrew Marchand, Tierney said on air, “He has a new book coming out, called, ‘Swing and a Hit.’ And Jack Curry wrote it, along with Paul. We were told — and Tiki, you don’t even know this because I was going through this while you were finishing up your thought on the air — we were told we can not ask anything about Donaldson and Anderson. I said, ‘We can’t do the interview if that is the case.’ I said, ‘Please tell Paul we will navigate this responsibly. We will not belabor it. But I can’t have Paul O’Neill on the show after we spent an hour and 35 minutes talking about Tim Anderson and Josh Donaldson and not ask him about what transpired.’ That sucks. No disrespect to Paul. I love him. Truly, my second all-time favorite Yankee. We have a responsibility to the show.”

Again, Tierney was absolutely right. If O’Neill said on air that he didn’t want to talk about it, or if he wanted to dance around the topic, that’s fine. But the show would’ve been completely irresponsible if it agreed to not talk about one of the biggest stories in sports right now, especially because it involved a Yankees player. Canceling the interview was the only responsible thing to do.

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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