uuworld.org: liberal religion and life

Covering the Knoxville shooting

Online reporting allows more timely response.
By Christopher L. Walton
Winter 2008 11.1.08

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The last issue of this magazine was on its way to press when word reached us of the horrific deadly shootings during a Sunday morning service at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville on July 27. We inserted a brief bulletin in that issue’s “UU News” section, but full print coverage of the story would have to wait three months until we put this quarterly issue together. (That coverage begins on page 38; see "Two Die in Knoxville Church Shooting.")

Except that we didn’t wait three months. We didn’t have to. Our website, the weekly magazine uuworld.org: liberal religion and life, began covering the story immediately, publishing eight news stories and two personal responses to the attack by the end of August. Our news coverage, reported by senior editor Jane Greer and contributing editor Donald E. Skinner, described the response of the people of Knoxville, who rallied around the grieving UUs, and shared the stories of how the two UU congregations there were making their way toward recovery. At uuworld.org, you can read an interview with John Bohstedt, one of the men who tackled the shooter; you can read shooting victim Joe Barnhart’s moving tribute to his friend, Linda Kraeger, who died.

One of the personal responses we published—“Love Can’t Fix Everything,” by the Rev. Meg Barnhouse, a regular uuworld.org columnist—described Barnhouse’s personal acquaintance with the shooter, Jim David Adkisson, reflected on the variety of motives people were attributing to the shooter, and offered a thoughtful, heartbroken response. (Click “Current Issue” at uuworld.org, then scroll down to “Online Extras” to find her essay.)

We also tracked news coverage and opinion commentary about the attack on our news blog, “Unitarian Universalists in the Media” (here, here, and here), and monitored other blogs’ reactions at “The Interdependent Web.”

As the chart on page 13 shows, seven of the top ten most-read stories at uuworld.org this quarter were related to the Knoxville shootings. Subscribers to our weekly email newsletter received direct links to all this coverage and more.

There are times when a quarterly magazine simply cannot adequately cover a story. Thankfully, UU World isn’t just a quarterly magazine. It’s also the weekly magazine of Unitarian Universalist life. Visit us at www.uuworld.org.

Among this issue’s highlights: As Americans head to the polls this November, UU World looks back at Adlai Stevenson, the last Unitarian presidential nominee (page 64), and interviews Ted Sorensen, John F. Kennedy’s Unitarian speechwriter (page 53). One feature introduces the idea of “rankism” as a tool to build a world that honors every person’s dignity (page 33). Another looks at the ethical considerations in several Thanksgiving dinner options (page 30). And William F. Schulz explores the wisdom of simply holding on (page 26). No matter what this winter brings your way, it’s good advice.

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