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The weekend marked the first anniversary of the arson attack on former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s home church.

The arsonist still has not been caught, though the potentially deadly incident at Wasilla Bible Church on Dec. 12 has largely faded from the media’s consciousness.

“The investigation is still open, and we’re still asking the public to contact us if anybody has heard anything,” Wasilla Deputy Police Chief Greg Wood told the Alaska Dispatch earlier this month.

Officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives declared last December that the arsonist had placed accelerants near the entrances and exits of the Wasilla Bible Church before setting it ablaze - while five women were inside the church. Though nobody was hurt, the arsonist succeeded in causing $1 million in damage.

Pastor’s media tips

The Rev. Larry Kroon, the pastor at Wasilla Bible Church, has learned a few things from the 2008 presidential campaign when journalists descended on his church looking for a story to link to his most famous congregant, Sarah Palin.

Mr. Kroon has prepared some media tips for other pastors who may encounter a similar situation. He shared them with Terry Mattingly, who directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and also writes a weekly column for the Scripps Howard News Service.

His first tip? “Never accept an interview without confirming a reporter’s identity and his or her current employer. Just because someone has written for the Associated Press doesn’t mean that he isn’t currently a blogger for PalinIsADummy.org or something like that.”

Mr. Kroon also suggested that contact information for community leaders and church elders be kept in a firewall-protected section of the Web site and that phone numbers and e-mails only be posted for staffers who are willing to talk to the media in a timely manner.

Lastly? “In the Internet age, there is no reason that a pastor cannot - as a condition for talking to a reporter - insist on the right to record and transcribe an interview,” Mr. Mattingly, who blogs at www.tmatt.net, relayed from Mr. Koon. “That way, the professionals on both sides of the transaction know that they are on the record and that the results, if needed to clarify a point, can be posted online or e-mailed to a publisher.”

Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter@ washingtontimes.com.

About the Author
Amanda Carpenter

Amanda Carpenter

Amanda Carpenter writes the daily “Hot Button” column for The Washington Times. She was formerly a national political reporter for Townhall.com, the leading online publication for news, opinion and talk. Prior to that, she was a reporter for Human Events. Ms. Carpenter has made numerous media appearances that include segments on the Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, BBC and other ...

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