Buried in the back of the local section of the Sunday Washington Post was this short story about a religious service at the Fairfax (Va.) Adult Detention Center. It's a rather random story, and the Post has been doing more of them lately (check out this one from Sept. 9 on a skateboard ministry in southern Maryland), many of them relating to religion. All it amounts to is a vignette that would go along nicely with an Alan Cooperman story on the merits, or lack thereof, of a federally funded faith-based initiative that works to help inmates get ready for release. Accompanying this article is a video that tells us little more than what is in the article.
Here's a snippet of what I'm talking about:
More evidence of the divine to the five women at the 9:15 a.m. service on Tuesday: Kimberly Johnson and Kristin Bostrom sitting next to each other, praying together at a gray, metal table.
They had fought the previous day, during exercise time. The night after the fight, Bostrom prayed for Johnson. Since coming to jail in September, she'd found a closer relationship with God and a meaning and structure for such emotions as the anger she felt that night. So she prayed: Let me do God's will, not my own. My own can't always be trusted.
Neither woman knew the other would be in services that morning, but there Johnson was when Bostrom filed in. So Bostrom sat beside her, and the two women sang together.
Anyone at the Post know what this is all about? I really don't mind these articles being delivered to me with my morning newspaper, but I'd like some explanation about the article's purpose. I have no problem with the article as it stands. It's actually a pretty decent piece of narrative writing -- and hey, it's on religion, so why should I be complaining? Its purpose is just confusing and random.
I'd like to venture that these articles are driven by the Post's attempt to get more video content out on the Web. If you look at the Post's front page, few stories lend themselves very well to video that is not already broadcast on the evening news. So they send someone, Michelle Boorstein in this case, to put together a nice little multimedia package together, and bingo, you're being innovative on the Internet!
The problem I have with this is the lack of a news hook. Isn't that what a newspaper is all about? Even if the subject is not new, there has to be a news angle that the Post could have found with this. What trends are out there regarding prison ministries? There is so much more that could be explored here, and the current strategy of just drawing a word picture seems to be a waste of newsprint.