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St Petersburg Times: cautiously embracing the web, assiduously reporting Scientology

Scientology has long been a tricky subject for journalists to cover; the corporate-structured religious movement has a reputation for litigation, against government agencies, news organisations and individuals.

Given this it is all the more interesting to consider the recent series of articles about Scientology in Florida’s St Petersburg Times, which focus on the behaviour of its leader David Miscavige and offer a counterpoint to the Church’s own line that “since the founding of the first Church of Scientology in 1954, Scientology has become the fastest-growing religion in the world.”

The Times presented the series as three large articles (totalling nearly 15,000 words, with the first article alone stacking up 6,618) published across print and web over three consecutive days, starting on Sunday 21st June. In addition the paper ran ancillary features which fleshed out elements of the main story, provided historical context, and also laid out some of the raw material which helped to underpin the series. Continue reading