Surprise! Dallas Morning News finds a Methodist to quote

Once or twice (or maybe three or four or five times) in recent weeks, we have criticized The Dallas Morning News' inability to find anyone to quote who supports the United Methodist Church's stance on homosexuality as "incompatible with Christian teaching."

The Methodist bishop for the region, Michael "Never Can Be Reached for Comment" McKee, hasn't helped matters any, from a journalistic perspective. Whether there's a history between the bishop and the Morning News or he just doesn't want to be quoted on this matter, I have no idea. Perhaps he silenced his phone during church and forgot to ever turn it back on?

But rather than settle for a "no comment," GetReligion has made the case that the Morning News needs to find a voice on the "other side" in its coverage of a retired Methodist minister who presided over the wedding of two gay men earlier this month. That is, unless the Dallas newspaper wants to practice advocacy journalism.

In one of our posts, I got snarky and said:

So we’re left — still — with explaining to a Pulitzer-winning newspaper how it might practice balanced journalism and treat all sides of a divisive issue such as this fairly.

Alas, there's been a new development on this story: the minister who conducted the same-sex wedding has been suspended by the bishop.

Did the Morning News continue its trend of quoting only one side? To the Dallas newspaper's credit, no. (Perhaps the Morning News took GetReligion's constructive criticism to heart?)

From the latest story:

The Rev. Bill McElvaney, 85, announced his suspension in a statement to Northaven United Methodist Church, where he is a pastor emeritus. McElvaney is a graduate of and former professor at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University.

When he announced in January that he would preside over a same-sex marriage, he boldly said "love over law" mattered most.

Bishop Michael McKee, who heads the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church, did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

McElvaney said he was suspended March 7 for up to 90 days after a complaint was filed by the Rev. Camille Gaston.

Gaston, who is superintendent of United Methodist churches in the Dallas-area district, did not respond to requests for comment. She and the bishop are also graduates of Perkins School of Theology.

So neither McKee nor Gaston would talk. But for once, that didn't stop the Morning News from adding a measure of balance to its report. Along with McElvaney's reaction, the paper quoted a Texas pastor who supports the denomination's position on marriage:

Another Methodist pastor praised the Dallas bishop's suspension of McElvaney. The Rev. Tom Lambrecht of the Houston area is the vice president of the Good News ministries, which takes the view of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

"I am sure his personal health situation will be taken into consideration in the disciplinary process," Lambrecht said. "It is important that our church policies be upheld so some type of consequences is important. We are pleased with the prompt and firm response of Bishop McKee in terms of holding Rev. McElvaney accountable."

That's basic Journalism 101 stuff, of course. But we've been waiting for weeks to see it in the coverage of this story. So all that's left to say is: Nice job. Keep it up, Dallas Morning News. 

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