How to Cover the Retirement of the Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr.

September 18, 2006

The Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr. is retiring after 17 years in the pulpit at Riverside Church. The longstanding and prominent liberal church has been a place for Protestants to openly protest against fundamentalism. The church has been a place for “activism, open debate and dissent.”

to give this story the best coverage possible means enabling the available tools and then giving the reader or viewer or whatever the means to navigate and choose what they want. what do i mean? do you want examples? of course!

– the Reverand experienced some controversy during his tenure and that may be of interest to some. A permalink to another page with many more links to previous articles about the numerous controversies would provide background.

– the church has long been a “liberal” religious institution. background on the politics of the church, and it’s many associations with activist groups, candidates, etc. would be of great interest to some. again, a link to a page which would then be a detailed outline of more links. the organization of these aggregate pages is essential. it would be a time consuming process for an experienced researcher.

– pictures of the large and architecturally beautiful and complicated building would add color and perspective. perhaps a slideshow would be available? Or, better yet, one of those programs could be used that allows one picture to blur and fade into another.

– videos of sermons, speeches, or other public appearances by the Reverand would also add to the overall package. Again, some readers, or viewers, or whatever won’t be interested in this but having the choice is always a good thing.

– with computers taking a prominent position in how people get their news, it’s important to remember that some don’t want to read anything. having video or audio on a website along with words would allow many more to become involved in the story. video interviews with members of the congregation and the Reverand would be beneficial. Even fully reported and edited news segments that are well packaged and cover all the bases of the story should be available.

– with a story like this, i would say it’s unnecessary to have charts, graphs, or other kinds of statistics. it may be interesting to know how Riverside Church compares with other churches with liberal leanings, but that may be better explained through interviews not numbers.

– also, a story like this doesn’t need a lot of flash, graphics, or colors. Some would argue that due to the seriousness of the subject, the inclusion of “distraction” tactics would spice things up a bit. I am of the opinion that if things are serious and not flashy, spicing them up and making them, shall we say, more “entertaining,” in the end makes a mockery of the story and keeps with the culture of sensationalism. for this reason, the photos of the church should be well done and be artistic.

-there is always room for more explanation, but not for clutter.

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One Response to “How to Cover the Retirement of the Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr.”

  1. cunygsj said

    v. good. agree on charts, etc. i might want to hear from parishioners (pro and anti) (video or text). maybe a list of his causes. it’s a short list of very prominent people who filled the pulpit before and their causes; might make a good sidebar. stories i saw also did not explain how his successor will be chosen; that’s an interesting process.

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