Wandering Eye: How Twitter convinced someone to leave the Westboro Baptist Church and more

A homeless encampment established more than a decade ago in Hawaii is still going strong, this Civilbeat.com long read by Jessica Terrell reports. The reason: orderliness. "The Harbor encampment has defied the odds; it's existed largely unmolested by authorities for more than a decade. That's a testament to the fact that The Harbor is self-governed and mostly self-policed, a fairly well-functioning, community-based solution to the homeless problem, former Waianae Harbormaster William Aila says." Residents must prove they can take care of themselves, and then the community gives them a pallet to pitch their tent on (to keep flood mud out) and chores to do around the neighborhood of 113 encampments. "People in The Harbor like to say they are not homeless but simply houseless," Terrell writes. "In another country, The Harbor might not even be considered a homeless encampment. A shantytown, maybe. A rural village with few resources." It's also full of people struggling with methamphetamine addiction, depression, and physical problems. When one of them gets a chance to move into an apartment to save her health, you wonder what will happen. (Edward Ericson Jr.)

 

Arguing on Twitter can often feeling like you're slamming your head against a brick wall or just shouting into the void. But in The New Yorker this week, a profile of Megan Phelps-Roper by Adrian Chen proves that sometimes, you can actually change someone's mind on Twitter. Phelps-Roper grew up in the infamous Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, and started using Twitter regularly in 2009 to spread the church's message of hate. But then a few Twitter users started genuinely engaging her in theological debate, and that—plus some changes in the power structure and aims of the church—eventually helped her to break away from Westboro Baptist, find new friends of different faiths, and even find love. This is a long read, but a worthwhile one. (Anna Walsh)

 

"Is Martin Baron the Best News Editor of All Time?" This is a question posed by Esquire about the top editor of The Washignton Post. Why now? Well, a major investigation on clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church, coverd by the Boston Globe when Baron was editor there, is now the subject of a major motion picture, "Spotlight." But let's think about this for a second. When Barton Gellman, a former Post reporter, tried to come back with a treasure trove of secret documents on the NSA, Baron welcomed him back. They won a Pulitzer Prize. While helming the Globe, Baron won six Pulitzers during his 11 years at the top job, including one for the Catholic Church scandal. Here's Globe features editor Janice Page: "He personifies the purest form of journalism. You want to believe that sort of editor is more than just an ideal. It's like seeing Santa Claus. 'Wow, someone like that really exists!'" And here's Alberto Ibarguen, the former publisher of The Miami Herald: "He's not the easiest guy to deal with." Wow, the guy is beloved by editors and makes publishers a little leery? Sounds like a winning combination. (Brandon Weigel)

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