Tuesday, August 27, 2013

meet the editor of 'The Underground'

Tiffany Orr, Editor of The Underground
Let me introduce you to a friend of mine. Though we have never met face to face, (we tend to chat via email), she is a fellow journalist that I respect very much. Her name is Tiffany Orr and she is the editor of the online news source, The Underground.

You may not expect to receive Christian news from a site called The Underground and you’re not alone. “People think that there is some big evil corporation behind The Underground. It’s just me and my team. We work hard to bring our audience useful information,” says Orr. 


“Most Christian news sites have a conservative or liberal bias. I wanted to do something different with The Underground. I wanted to have a site that allowed both points of view and covered issues that appeal to both groups. I also wanted to highlight the things in Christendom that don’t get a lot of coverage…that up-and-coming Christian artist or people being persecuted for their faith. The focus on things that may not be the “main-and-plain” is why I decided to call the site, The Underground.”
While you The Underground may be new you, Orr created The Underground in December of 2008 and thousands of people visit the site or subscribe to email updates every day. This still shocks Orr when she thinks about this “little blog that could.” When she began the site, she averaged about one visitor a day and its success has been sort of a fluke. “I had no idea what I was doing at all. I started the site after I finished up my masters in journalism. In one of my digital media courses, we had to do a project. I decided to create a Blog. I thought I’d create it just to show my professor how lame blogging was. Pretty soon, I realized that I enjoyed it. I realized that blogging could be my soapbox… my platform for putting what I think out there. Shortly after I graduated, I started The Underground. The site has sort of morphed over the years as I figured things out. I think it has gone from pretty funky looking to sleek and modern.” She’s right. The recent changes to the site are not only functional, but visually attractive as well.
So, how much work does it take to put this information together anyway? Is it a full-time job or just a very full hobby? “It depends on which day it is,” says Orr. During the day, she is a stay-at-home mom trying to wrangle a precocious 3-year-old. By night she puts on her editor hat. This could take place in her home office, but many times, she just takes up residence on her living room couch. It’s a big job, but fortunately, she doesn’t have to do it alone. “I try to write a couple of short articles every day. Longer pieces take time to develop, so I try to crank those out when I can. I’m blessed to have editors, writers and news agencies that provide consistent content for the site.”

Over the years, The Underground has seen its share of bizarre events. “One guy was e-mailing [us] long [letters] about how he discovered the truth and finally started worshipping the white Jesus. After a few e-mails like that, I realized the guy was mentally ill and I began to pray for him. Another guy had just gotten out of jail and wanted to tell his side of a story we had run. We didn’t go with it because we couldn’t verify his identity.” But one of the weirdest had to do with slander. “Somebody posted a ‘slanderous’ comment on an article about a lawyer. We were contacted shortly after and forced to remove the comment.”

I asked Orr is she sees any resistance in the field of journalism coming from a Christian view. You may not be surprised by her answer. “Journalism is a weird beast. In mainstream circles, a Christian worldview is not generally welcome. You kind of have to tone it down if you want to be successful. In an age where the media is heavily opinionated, I’m flabbergasted at how the media is shaping hearts and minds.” But Orr isn’t talking about just secular media. “I get exasperated by some of the divisive untruths, lies and slander that conservative and liberal Christian news sites post. The people who read this stuff gobble it up without seeing if it’s true or not. Jesus wants us to walk in the truth. That’s why I’m happy that the Internet provides an alternate venue for Christian publishers.”

Orr has also seen her share of positive events as well. People not only read The Underground, they take it to heart as well. “I’m always surprised by the number of people who contact The Underground to let us know how much the site has changed their lives…atheists, lapsed Christians. One that sticks out in my mind is from one of The Underground’s former writers. She told me that God used the Underground to re-energize her walk with the Lord. It’s amazing how God can use simple things to change hearts and minds.”


So, how does Tiffany know you that she’s doing exactly what God wants her to do with her online publication? “Faith. It sounds simple, but it’s the truth,” say Orr. “I ask God to lead me in the direction in which He wants me to go. If doors close or if they open, I praise God and keep pressing on.”

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