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 V.15 No.13 | March 30 - April 5, 2006 

Thin Line

In the Papers: Megachurch Gets Mondo Coverage--Initially, I defended the Albuquerque Journal's coverage of Calvary Chapel's interior bickerings, which grabbed A-section headlines throughout the month of March. A friend complained to me. “Why do I have to see it every single day?” she asked. And I said something to the effect of, “They have lots of members. That's why it's important.”

But after the eleventy billionth article (OK, it was more like the sixth) about Senior Pastor Pete Nelson resigning because of a former senior pastor's continued involvement with the church, my argument was sounding pretty wimpy. (I wish I could give a more specific number of how many pieces were written, but the Journal's website is so unnavigable, it's impossible to really tell, even with an advanced Google search on my side.)

So, friend, you were right.

Why did it dominate the front page? Why was every new development of the megachurch treated as übernews? Probably because, as Alibi Editor Steve Allen says, when there's blood in the water ... .

The article in which ex-Pastor Skip Heitzig grumps at his critics was in the prized “most e-mailed in the past seven days” slot as of March 22, according to the Journal's website. Sure, it's interesting. It's even important, given how much money is being moved around by that church and Heitzig. But I felt a bit like a rubbernecker reading it. In these articles, the Journal was capitalizing on churchgoers and nonchurchgoers alike—members of Calvary buying papers to watch their church slosh around in the mud, and everyone else dropping their 50 cents for the drama. Because when you get down to it, drama's why everyone was reading. You know it. I know it. Calvary knows it. The Journal knows it.

Unfortunate Terms--Here's one from a March 24 article in the New York Times that I sincerely hope doesn't catch on: “Revenge of the mommy party.” This is referring to the Democrats running an unusually high number of women in races this year. But the “mommy party”? This unfortunate term, used to genderfy U.S. politics in the past couple years (Republicans, the “daddy party”?), is being dusted off for the upcoming elections.

Such a term is unfair to the candidates—not because there's anything wrong with moms. Yet of all the descriptive words for female politicians, the New York Times still finds it necessary to confine women to age-old stereotypes. Let's drop this phrase, no matter how cute or clever it might seem.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author. E-mail

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