Introducing Frisson Spotlight (1.1) Timothy Puko

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Occasionally the Spectrum Blog will post a series of email exchanges with an interesting Adventist. We call these exciting multi-day conversations: Frisson Spotlight.This weekend, we are chatting with Timothy Puko, the investigative reporter who wrote the article on the Costa Rica situation in the current issue of the journal. Feel free to join the conversation, propose questions, and post comments below.Timothy Puko majored in journalism as an undergraduate at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and as a graduate student at Columbia University in New York. He went to public schools in suburban Pittsburgh and currently is a reporter for the Press of Atlantic City (NJ). ______________________________________________Greetings Timothy,

Welcome to the Spectrum Blog. And thanks for taking time during your vacation this week to share your Sevy journalist secrets. Kudos on your investigative report, "On Becoming a Conference: The Costa Rican Story," in the current (Vol. 34:3) Spectrum. I'd like to start out our discussion by talking about your experience researching and writing that piece and then maybe we can move into a discussion about the role of journalism in the Seventh-day Adventist church.

First a couple of quick questions: How did you get involved in the Costa Rican story? How long did it take you to gather the evidence and write it? What was the most interesting aspect of the investigation to you?

I really appreciated the tone of your reporting - it's easy when encountering this level of buck-passing and maleficence to sound cynical or to see behind every stonewall a conspiracy. In the stories I investigated on the corruption in the Lake Region Conference and the strange 3ABN/Hope Ten Commandments Day fiasco, it became apparent that dull incompetence and me-and-my-sycophants-first greed turned out to explain a lot. Beyond the problems in Costa Rica, your report seems to finally hinge on the question: Who has oversight - the division or the general conference? Did you get the impression that the GC and the division were thinking about solutions or merely pushing away questions?

How did the conversations with Inter-American Division President Leito go? Was it difficult to get him to speak on the record and directly answer questions? What about the ex-pats? I really enjoyed the way that you structured the ending, the circle tightens and we are left with the leadership either not reading the evidence or dismissing the concerns of the membership. It's like ending a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story with all the characters saying that its the other guy's job to investigate. Someone should tell Dabrowski that telling the demos, to go through 'proper" channels which are supposed to correct themselves (?) is not called democracy, but bureaucracy. Frankly, it's a little Kafkaesque. We've got laity calling for the GC to investigate the division for ethics violations, the GC saying "we haven't even looked at the evidence, but let the division investigate itself" and the division ignoring the evidence and dismissing the laity as unethical. Here I wish that you had parsed out why Leito would dismiss Scarone when Humberto Rasi, a semi-retired GC official, supports his call for GC oversight. I would hope that Leito realizes that calling Scarone "unethical" needs some kind of support especially when Scarone has 418 pages of evidence on Costa Rica and the cooperation of Rasi. Any thoughts on why Leito responded that way? Now that the experience is over, what are your thoughts on the role of the investigative journalist in Adventism? And what decisions did you make to both tell the story and affect the people involved? Best, Alexander

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at