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10 Minutes Peace

    by Susan McGrath

Good Reporting
Date Posted: June 11, 2005

Answer the five "W"s -- who, what, when, where and why. That's the rudimentary formula for good reporting. Then you learn to snag the audience with catch-words and phrases, attempting to be fair and accurate and fitting it all into the allotted space. (Which is usually about two columns shorter than you need.)

These are just a few of the lessons I learned in journalism school. I also learned how to meet deadlines and deal with massive quantities of stress. I did not master drinking coffee or smoking, which I was told is a must to be a successful journalist. (Perhaps that's why I'm only writing here and there!)

Anyway, the point I'm trying to get to is that I was taught to seek the reason behind things and give details when possible, especially in feature stories, where they are what holds the reader's attention. I also have a natural inquisitiveness (my husband calls it being nosy) that compels me to seek the deeper meaning, root cause or background of a story. And I want a follow-up!

So when I read the bible, sometimes I wonder why God didn't give us more information. Many things can be better understood by studying the cultural setting of the time. Some can be answered with archeology or science. But many will never be resolved. At least not in this life.

When I read the gospels, I prefer Luke because he's methodical and chronological. It makes more sense to me. Maybe he was a journalist at heart and his parents pushed him into a medical career.

I realize that God chose the writers of the bible for a purpose. He inspired them to impart to us what He wanted us know. His purpose was to give us truth, not to answer every question that anyone through time might possibly have about whether Adam rode dinosaurs or what type of fruit was on the tree in Eden.

Never mind where Mary Magdalene got her money or how many brothers and sisters Jesus had or what the color "pale" looks like.

But I want details!

The fact that many bible accounts are non-specific or downright vague has intrigued me to study more about the culture and customs of the people. I have read many scholars' ideas and theories.I have begun to realize that the bible can be much more intensely personal because we can each seek to discover or imagine these details for ourselves.

By this I don't mean making up stories or adding things that didn't happen, but researching what things might have been like, picturing how they happened, understanding what the original language said while always praying for wisdom and understanding.

That's good reporting!

"Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them. The unfolding or your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple." -- Psalm 119:129-130

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Biography Information:
Susan McGrath is:

a recovering journalist trying to encourage others and glorify God through writing;

living the small-town life with husband Tim and sons Lincoln, 12, and Sawyer, 6;

completing a few put-off writing projects while using chocolate for therapy.
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