Bible museum

McClatchy story on DC Bible museum gets some very creative editing by the Seattle Times

McClatchy story on DC Bible museum gets some very creative editing by the Seattle Times

It started on a Saturday afternoon when I was gazing at a print version of the Sunday Seattle Times. It was actually the “bulldog” edition, so-called because it comes out the day before. Before in the days before the Internet, this was the term used to describe the earliest edition of the Sunday paper that was sent to remote locations statewide so that theoretically, at least, everyone in the circulation area had some version of that big edition to look at.

I noticed this headline: “D.C.’s Bible museum will celebrate Christian Scripture.”

Now, last time I looked, the much maligned museum was planning to cover the Old Testament, aka the Hebrew Bible, as well as the New Testament. My colleagues Jim Davis and Bobby Ross covered the Washington Post’s article on this. So what’s this “Christian Scriptures” bit? Why not “Jewish Scriptures”?

What I turned up was one of the weirder instances I’ve run across of creative editing by wire desks. First, there was the original story filed Dec. 24 by a writer for McClatchy News Service:

WASHINGTON -- The National Mall may be the nation’s front lawn, but even at holiday time the museums that line it are only lightly decorated with Christmas trees and lights and not with any religious displays.
But a new privately-owned museum is going up just a few blocks away –- the Museum of the Bible –- that only wants to celebrate Scripture. The $400 million project two blocks south of the National Air and Space Museum doesn’t have to worry about laws or rulings that keep religion and state separate.
The museum is the brainchild of Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby, the privately-owned Oklahoma City crafts chain that follows its owners’ evangelical beliefs, including closing its 600 stores on Sundays.

Now, that’s not what was in the Seattle Times.

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Planned Bible museum gets an intelligent, literate look from WaPo

Planned Bible museum gets an intelligent, literate look from WaPo

Last week, my colleague Bobby Ross Jr. briefly praised Michelle Boorstein's long-form feature in the Washington Post on the planned Museum of the Bible. In my own admiring review, let me count the ways.

Boorstein gives details on the look and feel and content of the museum, planned for Washington, D.C. by 2017. She presents the truly celestial numbers: a $50 million price for the 430,000-square-foot Washington Design Center, to be stocked with 44,000 biblical artifacts in Green's personal collection; the need to deal with a "dozen or so agencies" in starting the museum.

She offers an engaging look at Steve Green, president of the Hobby Lobby store chain, who expects to pay $800 million for the museum.

She traces how Green's vision for the museum has shifted, from promoting the truth of the Bible toward a scholarly, nonsectarian approach.

And  (insert Hallelujah Chorus) she spends only two of the 63 paragraphs to the Supreme Court case that won Hobby Lobby the right not to insure some forms of birth control. Some writers would have digressed and obsessed over that case, adding enough text to fill a Bible.

Boorstein often puts us into the scene with vivid wording. In one example she says the future museum building is close to the National Mall: "It’s just two blocks away, and from the roof it feels as though you can take a running leap onto the U.S. Capitol."

Here is the kind of intelligent, searching content you get when an actual religion writer like Boorstein writes a religion story. She avoids taking sides, yet compels you to read further:

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A story of biblical proportions: WPost tackles plans for $800 million Bible museum

A story of biblical proportions: WPost tackles plans for $800 million Bible museum

I have a confession to make: I"m typing this in a hurry.

I'm headed to Atlanta for the Religion Newswriters Association's annual meeting (see our 5Q+1 interview with RNA president Bob Smietana, if you happened to miss it, and follow #RNA2014 for live tweeting).

So I'm going to make this post short and sweet. Real sweet.

Earlier, we critiqued some media coverage of a planned Bible museum in the nation's capital and found it lacking — here and here, for example.

But the Washington Post's award-winning religion writer, Michelle Boorstein, has produced an excellent, magazine-length story on the gigantic project.

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