AFFIRMATION OF RELIGIOUS JOURNALISM
BY THE ASSOCIATED CHURCH PRESS
Sept. 26, 2013
In recent years reorganization and strategic repositioning in many denominations in North America have led to the demise of a host of venerable denominational magazines, newspapers, and news services, among them the United Methodist Reporter, Episcopal Life, United Church News, the Church Herald, DisciplesWorld, and The Progressive Christian (Zion’s Herald). Many other churches’ print and electronic news sources have experienced severe financial and staffing cutbacks and/or pressure to redefine their missions in greater alignment with corporate communication models and development priorities in their denominations. The members of the Associated Church Press, the oldest interdenominational Christian press association in North America, are concerned that professional religious journalism and editorial freedom are increasingly being sacrificed in favor of public relations, promotion, and fundraising.
We strongly urge the leaderships of North America’s denominations to stop this serious erosion of religious journalism by providing for editorial freedom, and by recommitting themselves to supporting professional religious journalism about contemporary Christianity in their print, online, and social media communications. We encourage denominational executives to discuss these issues with the ACP members and other religious journalists and communicators in their denominations.
The members of the ACP are concerned about a growing credibility gap within our denominations. Shortsighted priorities with long-term consequences appear to be driving decisions about publishing and communication practices. These decisions threaten the relationships of trust between church members and their denominations and undermine the authenticity that young people in particular are demanding from religious institutions. In the words of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s editorial policies: “The work of the church is strengthened when it is done in a spirit of openness and trust. Church members have a basic right to know about the work done and the decisions made by entities within the church.”