We've said it before, but Associated Press writers face an almost impossible task: providing real depth and insight in wire-service-length news reports.
Yes, the AP goes in depth from time to time — such as religion writer Rachel Zoll's deep dive inside the changing status of evangelicals in America, which I praised last week.
But typically, AP limits stories to 300 to 500 words.
By my quick copy-and-paste count, an AP story out today on Southern Baptists talking racial unity with a black Baptist leader is 532 words.
So perhaps it's no surprise that the piece falls short when it comes to backing up its generalizations and quoting relevant sources.
Let's start at the top:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — When Ferguson, Missouri, exploded two years ago with racial unrest that spread across the nation, the newly elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention was moved to action.
Together with an interracial group of his fellow ministers, the Rev. Ronnie Floyd penned an article that called on Southern Baptist pastors, churches and laypeople to repent of racism and injustice. "Silence is not the answer and passivity is not our prescription for healing," it read.
It was one of the most strongly worded denunciations of racism ever released by leaders of a denomination founded in a split over slavery, and it set in motion events leading to a "national conversation on racial unity" to take place at the SBC's annual meeting on Tuesday.
Speaking to the membership of the nation's largest Protestant denomination will be the Rev. Jerry Young, president of the nation's largest historically black denomination, the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A.