News outlets struggled to capture the Rapture
With interviews, videos, photos and such
Intimate details make writing exciting
So everyone aimed for the personal touch
Editors laughed at the deadline in headlines—
Lunatic out-groups are always fair game—
Some woman attempted to slaughter her daughters;
I doubt that the newsies will shoulder some blame
Watching the rapture was once fun. I think the first story I saw on it was months ago, and it gave me a chuckle; I was amused that such a splinter story would make it to national press. As you are well aware, not only did it make it to national press, but in the past week I don’t know of a media outlet that did not have a rapture story.
And there’s the problem.
A fringe belief was given a sort of legitimacy by round-the-clock coverage. The linked story above is a bit of collateral damage. I expect more, and hope to be wrong.
News outlets could have done differently. The lede tended to be “look at how deeply these people believe” rather than “oh, look, yet another end-times prophesy” (yes, both themes were there, but the ratios were not to my liking). The prophecy was “debunked” by other religious leaders pointing to other bible verses, rather than by historians or social scientists. Camping’s cult is different only in the specificity of their timeline, and the lunacy of the broader belief was never (rarely, and by atheists, another outgroup) questioned.
This should have been a small paragraph on page 13, not a headline.