Who says print is dead? Check out how much space this religion story got

Sorry, Carla.

I don't mean to embarrass you.

Just six days ago, my former colleague Carla Hinton — who succeeded me as religion editor of The Oklahoman in 2002 — drew GetReligion praise from James "Not The One Who Created Garfield" Davis.

Now I'm going to say more nice things about Carla and her newspaper. Actually, the story I want to highlight has been in my guilt file for a few weeks. (The guilt file is where we stash stories that we really want to mention but never seem to get around to.)

Before church on a recent Sunday, I was eating a quick breakfast at a fast-food joint when I noticed a giant photo on the front page of that day's Oklahoman. 

The photo (the one embedded with the tweet above) referred to a story by Carla on a "Midnight Basketball" outreach program:

Some youths show up in clusters of three or four, while others arrive alone on Friday nights during the summer.
For many onlookers, the young people’s destination is simply a church parking lot with a couple of basketball goals.
But to die-hard ballers like Jashean Taylor, 14, and Tywon Morton, 12, it’s a blacktop paradise.
“It’s all the kids from the neighborhood coming together to play basketball,” said Morton, a seventh-grader at Douglas High School.
“You get to play with bigger kids, and it’s a better challenge.”
What the teens and preteens might not say, if only because they don’t realize it yet, is that the “Midnight Basketball” outreach at Christ Temple Community Church, 2717 N Kelley, is about more than their beloved sport.
It’s street ball in a sacred space. 

As I flipped the pages, I found that Carla's 2,000-word story filled three full pages — three full pages! — with more large, high-quality photos by The Oklahoman's Sarah Phipps. Be sure to check out the photo gallery when you click the link to read the story.

I enjoyed the entire story, but this was my favorite part:

Once upon a time, community-minded people treated children in their neighborhood like their own offspring. Children didn’t have to wonder if someone other than their parents cared about them because the elderly grandmother two doors down offered them a dollar or two and maybe a Popsicle every now and then.
Or the older teen who lived next door took the time to show them how to count change or helped them find the school bus stop.
If a child acted out at someone’s home, in school or out in the neighborhood, an adult on the scene would have no qualms about administering swift justice — sometimes just a real good scolding — for the offense. And the child could expect no less once he reached home.
This concept of community comes into play at Christ Temple which has been offering its popular basketball outreach for 15 years, with limited resources but lots of love.

In these trying times for print journalism, some newspapers have axed the Godbeat.

Against such a backdrop, it's gratifying to see The Oklahoman not only maintain a full-time religion writer but also devote lots of space and resources to her work.

Who says print is dead?

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