As St. Petersburg Times' tough Scientology stories arc across media, some celebrity church members are silent
It's difficult to be objective about the actions taken by the news outlet where you work, so I'm hesitant to gush too much about the St. Petersburg Times in this space, because we have plenty of newsprint and digital space elsewhere for that activity.
But it has been amazing to see the Times' ongoing three-part series about Scientology spread across the media ecology, reflected in posts on a growing numbers of blogs, Web sites and wire services.
As the newspaper itself has noted quite ably in a story published on the Web site today, this tough series based on revelations from four of the highest-ranking former church members to speak publicly, has arced across media like a shooting star.
One place I haven't seen the story mentioned: Greta Wire -- the blog maintained by Fox News Channel anchor and Scientologist Greta Van Susteren. Though she has four posts up today, referencing everything from the mysterious voluntary disappearance of South Carolina's governor to a staffer from her show who was whacked by a foul ball at a baseball game, Van Susteren hasn't yet posted an entry on the story, though some of her commenters have referenced it.
(A St. Petersburg Times story in 1998 referenced how low-key Van Susteren and her husband, John Coale, can be about their membership in the church.)
Similarly, Kirstie Alley, another well-known Scientologist, hasn't referenced the story on her Twitter account, though she is an active user who posts lots of messages in a sort of free-form dialogue with her online followers.
It has been good to see the discussion the story has sparked on all sides of the issue, and at a time when controversial religious issues and concern about litigation or advertising loss can keep some journalists from tackling tough stories at all, it's good to see a newspaper jumping in the deep end.
Whenever I see someone post a smug comment to this blog about how newspapers are losing their relevance, I think about stories such as the Scientology series, the Ray Sansom stories, the Florida School for Boys stories and our Buddy Johnson coverage and realize how wrong they are.