As we continue to wait and watch, I wanted to note a few sites that are collecting online reporters' resources linked to the life and work of Pope John Paul II. Our friends over at Poynter.org have a special edition of Al's Morning Meeting online, in which online researcher Al Tompkins pulls together a mountain of links and background resources. There is no way I can compete with that, so just click here.
Similar materials will continue to be updated at the ReligionLink site operated by the Religion Newswriters Association. (Here is a direct link to the RNA's fast-developing collection of links on Pope John Paul II and the Vatican.
This list will keep growing in the hours and days ahead. However, may I also be so bold as to point you toward a column that I wrote recently for the Scripps Howard News Service, at the time of the first real crisis in this threat to the life of the pope and the media panic that ensued.
I called it "Pope John Paul II: What's the lead?" I really think that is the question many are facing right now. It featured input from a host of veteran pope-watchers, from papal biographer George Weigel to Godbeat legend Russell Chandler, from Beliefnet czar Steven Waldman to Baptist scholar Timothy George. Here is a quick bite from that column:
Reporters are trying to cover their bases. The panic also may have been fueled by another reality. This pope's life is impossible to capture in a few dramatic images, a three-minute sound-bite blitz and a sentence or two about the length of his tenure (second longest ever) and the number of nations he has visited (125 so far). Journalists must ask: What is the lead on this story?
Please let us know of the best, and the worst, articles that you see in the mainstream press. Also, pass along good sites for research on the story. Once again, please know that we are interested in a wide range of materials, from a variety of viewpoints. I would also be interested in hearing from journalists evaluating the, well, doctrinal balance of some of these resource sites.
While we all face our personal reactions to this story, we must remember that people have work to do. It's called journalism.