Despite my comment on the initial article, despite my two private emails to Kevin Eckstrom, editor-in-chief of RNS (Religion News Services), ABWE was remaining the unnamed “independent Baptist mission agency” in both of Sarah Pulliam Bailey’s articles on Bob Jones and GRACE.
One small voice was not enough to be heard. But a lot of small voices raised in unison can sound like thunder. And apparently your voices raised in unison did!
I received this today and many of you might have as well:
Ladies and gentlemen:
I’m writing to respond to the deluge of emails I’ve received from you in the past 24 hours about RNS coverage of Bob Jones and, indirectly, the ABWE. We always appreciate hearing from readers, even and especially when they think we’ve missed the mark.
A couple of points:
– I have asked my staff to insert the ABWE name into the articles you referenced. That has been done.
– I can assure you that there is absolutely zero attempt on our part to protect or expose anyone, ABWE or otherwise. We are not, as some of you have alleged, trying to “protect their reputation” or “giving them the gift of anonymity” or “saying that the victims do not deserve or need justice.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
– In fact, there was zero discussion on our staff about naming or not naming ABWE in our stories. Perhaps that was an oversight, but it was not an intentional one. In journalism — where space, deadline and staffing pressure loom large — some decisions are made for no particular reason. Both of these stories were written on tight deadlines with minimal staff, and the focus of the stories was meant to stay on Bob Jones; the ABWE was mentioned only in passing, and nothing more.
– You should know we take your concerns seriously, and have responded appropriately. You should also know that RNS is the only mainstream media out with a paid writer (Boz Tchividjian) who is dedicated to writing about abuse in religious settings. So we take this matter seriously and respectfully.
I believe we have addressed your concerns to the best of our ability, and now I would ask you to remove my personal email address from your website–on the Internet, that’s like listing your personal cell phone number for people to call at any hour of the night, and makes my inbox vulnerable to spam.
Religion News Service
529 14th Street NW, Suite 1009
Washington, DC 20045
First of all, friends, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for that “deluge of emails”! Clearly my voice alone on multiple occasions was not enough to elicit any kind of response from RNS. It took the thunder of ALL our voices.
Of course, this reality also leaves great questions about the sincerity of the editor’s remark that “concerns are taken seriously” when clearly it is only the concerns of a LOT of people that are taken seriously.
(Also … a reminder to the world: Sharing someone’s work email address that is readily accessible online is not at all the same thing as sharing someone’s personal cell phone number … just so we’re clear. But as he did what we asked him to do, I did remove his work email address from the post.)
When you are the editor-in-chief of RNS, you will get emails. And when you make a bad call, you will get A LOT of emails. (Welcome to having a really important job!)
Still, I’m grateful we were heard. So thank you, thank you, thank you again!! We have been promised that ABWE is now named in both articles. I hope that RNS has learned something about covering situations of abuse and that something that seems so insignificant to them is actually of huge significance to those involved. We are real people with real names and real stories. Evangelical journalism has a long, long way to go in its collective understanding of abuse and treatment of abuse scandals, but maybe this was one small step toward a better future.
I’m so glad you were part of it with us.