Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Scientologists Take on Florida Paper

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Scientologists Take on Florida Paper

Article excerpt

In a special 125,000-copy issue of the Church of Scientology's magazine Freedom, the church's Clearwater, Fla., branch accused the St. Petersburg Times, Clearwater Police Department and defunct Clearwater Sun of slanted treatment of the church and its members.

The publication also questioned the nonprofit and tax-exempt status of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, which owns the Times.

The "inflammatory" coverage by the Sun and Times has "intensified the atmosphere of hate in the city and ultimately led to acts of senseless violence being directed against members of the church," wrote Richard Haworth, Clearwater bureau chief at Freedom.

Some of the articles in Freedom said the local media have ignored contributions that Scientologists have made in the Clearwater community, such as the annual "Say No to Drugs" road race, sponsored by the Dianetics Running Team. The event raises money for a national drug education program.

"Through the years, the church has been an active participant in addressing problems facing the city and down-town," article said. "The Times has reported little or none of this actual news but instead has dwelled on lies and innuendo."

Freedom also said that while church members have met with the editorial board of the Times in an attempt to improve communication, "the visit had no apparent effect on the paper's reporting, which has continued to be critical and inaccurate."

Violence against Clearwater-area Scientologists "can be tracked statistically," Haworth said in an interview. …

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