Thoughts about the Director’s Cut from The Overnighters documentary – part 6

This is the sixth and next to last post on my thoughts after viewing the director’s cut. Just a few more ideas before concluding with my reaction to a question asked by a person at the screening I attended.

Role of the newspaper

I think I’ll hold off for another day the role played by a reporter brought into town and the editor of the city paper.

One idea is the appropriate boundary between reporting a story of public interest on one hand and becoming part of the story or creating fear on the other hand.

Also for another day is a discussion of what are the ethical standards in the journalism community regarding how many times you ask the subject of an interview a question when the subject refuses to answer any questions, how forceful you can be in asking those questions, and how many hundreds of feet you can chase a person down the street loudly calling out questions at them when they have refused to answer any questions.

In this situation, the answer is apparently as many times as you want, as forcefully as you want, and somewhere around 200 feet. Perhaps that is now normative behavior in the journalistic world. I hope not.

Also, do those answers change when the badgering reporter is himself being followed and filmed?

Another thread of the story is identified by Mr. Moss in his 19 minute interview at the PBS site.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Mr. Moss sees himself as part of the media in this overall story. He tried to be as unobtrusive as possible, but he realizes that holding a professional quality camera on your shoulder changes the dynamics of any situation.

He suggests another dimension to pursue would be the local newspaper. He said one part of the overall story is the Williston Herald’s role

..both reporting on and sometimes inflaming the fears of the community…

in their coverage of the people staying at the church.

A few other stray comments

Not quite sure how to incorporate a few other thoughts and observations after first time watching the director’s cut. Will accumulate them here for future reference.

Early on, Keith Graves applies for a job at Red River Supply. He looks at the job application carefully to see there are no questions about past convictions. What struck me is he had initiative. The smart alecks in the audience can now say “well duh!”, seeing as how he stands accused of running a prostitution ring.

Jay Reinke wasn’t a complete Lone Ranger. The congregation did approve the overnighters program twice. The first time was when Jay wasn’t actually present – I’m not sure the circumstances of that meeting. The second time was about six months later. Full disclosure: I know more than I will say about that meeting because my son was present.

For future pondering is the individual from the church who went to the city zoning department to complain about lack of sprinklers and assorted code violations. It is obvious this person was part of elected leadership, because you can see him in the meeting with the district president.

The read-over at the end of the documentary is not something that Mr. Reinke read in advance for Mr. Moss or something he recited after the resignation. My guess from the documentary was that Mr. Reinke read it to Mr. Moss the same day of cleaning out the office. Instead it is live from the sanctuary on the Sunday when Jay Reinke read his confession letter to the congregation.

Next: conclusion.

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