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Scientology Church hires journalists to investigate critical paper

The Church of Scientology, no stranger to conflict with investigative reporters, hired its own team to analyze the work of one of its most persistent watchdogs, the St. Petersburg Times of Florida, Howard Kurtz writes for the Washington Post.

The Times' coverage of the secretive church dates back decades, including a report that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1980 and an exposé last year that accused the Church's leader of violence and intimidation, and its employees of coverups.

The team hired to investigate the Times includes a former director of Investigative Reporters and Editors, a Pulitzer Prize-winning print journalist, and an Emmy-winning former TV producer, Kurtz says. The Church has the approximately 20-page study, but it has not decided if it will be publicized, he adds.

This is not the first time the Church of Scientology has targeted journalists who have accused it of misconduct. Since 1991, media outlets have reported that the Church has hired private investigators to harasses and discredit their reporters.

Other Related Headlines:
» Scientology seeks investigative journalists for a potential media fight-back (Gawker—November 2009)
» St. Petersburg Times Publishes Major Investigation on Church of Scientology (Knight Center—June 2009)