For some time, I’ve been considering a series of posts on reporting. Citizen journalism. How to research and write about something that’s fit for publication in that it reports facts and does so in a way that admits to the author’s biases. I’d thought of a series of how-to posts; but that’s so boring. You learn by writing, by making a fool of yourself when other people read your writing. A writer’s credibility is a weird thing — one mistake and a whole project is considered suspect; even if everything else you write is accurate. So it pays, as much as you are able, to research and verify and not just spread what someone else has said, particularly in the age of linky goodness.
Verification is the essence of reporting. That’s what my first editor taught me, and it’s the best advice I’ve ever gotten on how to report.
Poking around, looking at the publishers associated with the Christianist Publishing Industry that surrounding the Duggar Clan, I am amazed by the web of association. Each group I look at has a chain of non-profit and for-profit corporations. The non-profits, obviously, accept tax-deductible contributions and own tax-free properties. Very cursory looking has shown that there were many, many millions of dollars being made by these legal entities. They were also somewhat sloppy about the separation between for-profit, non-profit and personal, and so have legal defense foundations and crowd sourcing to deal with their legal troubles.
The men that found them have their wives and children work for the non-profit, producing content and acting, like the Duggars, as life-style coaches, no different from Gwyneth Paltrow or Martha Stewart. The families, always large are photogenic and, in the mode of Palin/Huckabee folksy charm. Unlike Paltrow or Stewart, the Christianist Publishing Industry preaches, and what they mostly preach is isolation; don’t partake of the outside world, don’t get guidance elsewhere, don’t turn elsewhere for help. (That last link goes to a thread on Tod’s Duggar/LaCour post, I hope you’ll read it for an understanding of what I mean by isolation, it helped me shape my thinking.) This has created a culture of physical and sexual abuse of women, physical abuse of children up to death, and boys raised up to, sometimes, be the next generation of sexual predators and child/wife beaters.
Most sickeningly, many of the people who have turned inward, isolated themselves from society at large, and practice this particular cult of Christianity (or some parts of it,) are good people; good Christians, who would never condone the evil they’re supporting and defending. The real sinners here hide behind the mercy of the righteous; they use them, and so make them a part of their sin.
This fascinates me. I wanted to build a map the Christianist publishing industry based on the public-records footprint its created. Would anyone e interested in helping? There is a substantial public record to draw on, and it would be the first lesson — how you identify that record and build a profile of an entity and related entities run by the same share holders/trustees so that you can write about the industry accurately.
If anyone’s interested, I’ll put together a list of publishers and where to look for the public-records footprint they’ve created.
If you’re interested in writing professionally, this is good stuff to know.
I claim no special knowledge, other than having committed acts of journalism for many years. I didn’t go to jSchool. I’d welcome other contributions on the idea; my greatest complaint with blogging is that it too often rehashes instead of investigates and reports. This is my contribution to making the internet a better place.