As reporters often focus on brand new information, follow-up stories sometimes get left by the wayside. Tracking down a source or checking in on the end result of something might not lead to anything worth reporting. It's nice to see NPR do some digging around on a story that was begging to be shared across the Internet.
Remember when Harold Camping's prediction that the faithful would be raptured was all the rage for about a week in May? There were plenty of stories about end of the world predictions and what happened to people who believed such predictions. As we noted, NPR was one of the first to highlight the struggles families faced as the date drew nearer.
What happens, though, when media outlets report on a seemingly silly business, one that preys on people's beliefs? Looks like Bart Centre made out with at least $35,000 by promising to care for people's pets if the owners were raptured in the next 10 years. Of course, some people wanted a refund, which Centre declined.
Even with a few dissatisfied customers, he took on about 260 clients who promised to pay $135 for the first pet and $20 for additional pets. What was feeding his business? Here's his take:
There might not have been much fallout to Centre's business from the rapture not happening, but there was some fallout, in the form of complaints, when NPR first told Centre's story. Many criticized him and said that he was taking advantage of people, but Centre says that's not the case.
"I do not advertise my business. My business is advertised by the media and by word of mouth," Centre says. "I don't threaten people with the rapture coming; I outright tell them I do not believe in the rapture."
Surely the business won't end with Camping's false prediction.
Centre says business has been a little slow and he's added only a few clients since May. But he expects that around October 2012, close to when the Mayan calendar ends and what many people believe signifies the coming rapture, business might just pick up again.
It's nice to see a follow-up story, tracking down whatever happened with the original story. Could the story use a balancing view of some sort, perhaps a scholar who looks at faith and business? Are people more likely to spend money on a service if something is tied to their belief, for instance? What do end of the world predictions cost families? Simply reporting on this one particular business with no other voices seems to legitimize it in some way.
Image via Wikimedia Commons.