Tuesday, August 05, 2008

TEC Communications

This is a marvelous opportunity to think about the ways we communicate within the Episcopal Church and to the world beyond.

Nick Knisely, a member of the Standing Commission on Episcopal Church Communications, posed this question on the HoBD list a couple of days ago. I'm now posting it here with his permission. He wrote:

I'm asking this question in part because I've been thinking about how our church news delivery has changed over the past few years. I'm particularly noticing the difference between the coverage of this Lambeth conference and the last one.

Did you all feel that the coverage of Lambeth this time was sufficient? I don't just mean in terms of ENS and ACNS which provided, but including the alternative outlets like Titus1:9, Walking with Integrity, Stand Firm, Episcopal Cafe, Thinking Anglicans, the blogging bishops, etc... I've been thinking that when you take the full breadth of what's being made available to us, there's clearly been a sea-change over the past few years.

What sorts of things did you find missing that would have been helpful?

As you can imagine, I gave him a reply in my most Verbosan fashion. Now I invite all of you to reply, too. What pleased and frustrated you about the Lambeth coverage? What other or different kinds of news coverage would you want to see as we approach the Primates Meeting that Rowan promises he will call, the Anglican Consultative Counsel that will occur in the spring of 2009, and the General Convention of 2009? Please be as specific and as creative as you can.

9 Comments:

Blogger Malcolm+ said...

Pity no one wants to address this.

Effective communications is essential for any large organization - religious, political, secular, whatever - to thrive.

Some parts of the Church do a very good job of it. Others, not so much. The media relations effort might best be described using a word that begins with cluster and rhymes with truck.

8/07/2008 3:37 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thank you, Malcolm. I'm disappointed, too. I really thought folks would comment on this one ... especially considering its source.

I have exchanged many comments with Nick Knisely with way-too-many specific suggestions.

Some folks "on the inside" are asking for our counsel. I can understand if folks don't want to comment here, but I sure hope they are offering their suggestions to the Standing Commission on Episcopal Church Communications.

It seems to me our church communications are profoundly broken. I am hearing that from several quarters. We need ideas about how to fix it, since it's clear that the "fix" is not going to come from the folks at "815."

Maybe some folks are suffering "Lambeth fatigue." I know I am, in some measure. But I hope folks will soon offer their ideas about how to get our message out, since it's clear the The Episcopal Church isn't going to so. Your Anglican Journal (from Canada) did a much better job than our ENS "journalists" did.

8/09/2008 1:28 AM  
Blogger OKDiane said...

Lisa,

I’ve been pondering this question for several days. Since I’ve been in the Episcopal Church for less than 2 years I have nothing to compare it with, but I found the news coverage satisfying. It gave me a sense of the process and the reports from participants let me know what people were experiencing.

‘We’ are the church so ‘we’ are the only ones who can get ‘our’ message out. As I understand it, Christianity is a way of life. Most of life is lived at the parish level so that’s where communication is critical.

I think it’s good that the bishops at Lambeth seem to have had the unaccustomed experience of talking and listening to one another about painful differences without the need to ‘fix’ the problems or come up with ‘right’ answers. Maybe that’s the key to better communication and promotion of reconciliation.

Diane

8/12/2008 9:54 AM  
Blogger Davis said...

Count me as one who's got Lambeth Fatigue big time. Designed as it was to produce no clarity, it was a brilliant success - I'm more in a fog about it than ever.

8/13/2008 12:00 PM  
Blogger --Susan said...

I’ve been giving this topic no small thought.

I am neophyte in this Episcopal world. I don’t think balanced, unbiased news was or is available. I chose for the most part to get my L information from “my” spinners, those I read whose opinions I trust. I chose and choose to read folks like you who provide nuggets and commentary about things about which I care.

So. My concern wasn’t really with national news outlets or the official (whatever the heck that might be) church news services.

My concern has been and continues to be local. I am trying to communicate to my priest how and why L so affected me and others. I don’t mean to say she isn’t supportive of me. She is. She doesn’t seem to understand my depth of feeling. And not just about Lambeth—the whole gay Christian thing.

I feel like the church and those of us in it to varying degrees at any given moment are like Barimaeus. We're shuffling along aimlessly, forward and back, hither and thither. Jesus keeps asking us what He can do for us. We keep shoving Him aside. We sure don't want or need JESUS involved! What would happen if we, all of us, would take Jesus up on His offer and answer, "Lord, let me receive my sight"?

--Susan

8/14/2008 11:13 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

I won't disagree with you, OKDiane and Susan. I appreciate the fact that you have considered this question at some length. I am still doing so myself. I don't have any easy answers.

But I would urge you to distinguish the "official" TEC coverage and the many other independent bloggers. I agree with you that we were lucky to have so many people blogging from Lambeth, including bishops and others present at Lambeth. Had we been reduced to TEC's "news" service, we would have been flat out of luck. It struck me that ENS at Lambeth nearly perfected the art of showing videos of people whose mouths are moving with no significant words coming out.

Susan, maybe you're right. Maybe it's stupid to wish for balanced or unbiased news.

Nick Knisely's question spurred me to wonder: Given that we cannot rely on TEC or ACNS to offer anything but carefully sanitized reports [a.k.a. propaganda], are there other structures we want to see in place? Or shall we all just continue to hope that key participants will blog? Many bishops and observers blogged during Lambeth, where there were over 600 bishops present, and – thank God! – many blogged in honest and insightful ways that helped me get a broader and deeper way that ENS' tightly controlled coverage provided. I appreciated all of them, whatever "side" they blogged from.

But do you really believe that anyone will blog from inside the Primates Meeting or the ACC meeting? Not bloody likely! The people who will attend those meetings are too invested in the status quo and/or in keeping secret the content of the discussions.

At the last Primates Meeting, a few bloggers from the left and the right were present, talking with primates and distributing real news. ENS and ACNS offered virtually nothing until they posted the sanitized "final statements." I assume the bloggers went at their own expense. Will they attend the upcoming meetings of the Anglican Communion … and still at their own expense? Or do we want to seek some way to find or support journalists and others who will be on the ground while bishops and primates discuss the future of the Anglican Communion?

Let me end this too-long comment to say that I am glad bishops all over the spectrum blogged during Lambeth. I learned much from all of them. And I was glad to hear of the way they listened -- really listened – to other bishops.

Will we get any analogous reports from the Anglican meetings that the Archbishop of Canterbury has outlined for the next several months? Do we care? What do we need?

8/14/2008 8:44 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

OKDiane and Susan, let me say I'm in the same boat with you. In my parish of ca. 140 people each Sunday, I'm the one who is watching these events most closely. Very few others were even aware that the Lambeth Conference was even happening.

In some ways, that disappoints me: I wish they cared about the Anglican Communion as I have cared.

But let's look at it another way: I think it says that the average mainstream Episcopalian in the pew doesn't give a fig about The WorldWide Anglican Communion. Most of us – and most of our friends and parishioners – are absorbed in worship, parish ministry, and community outreach. I think that's a good thing for our future.

For I think it reinforces the view I'm coming increasingly to hold: I could not care less what the Anglican Communion does. I care very much about my parish, my diocese, and the Episcopal Church.

If Rowan or the Primates or the Anglican Communion wants to "kick us out," then let them. I won't lose anything. Our parish and diocese will continue their ministries with no change. Our diocese will continue its partnership with the diocese in Sudan. The "Anglican Communion" began as a series of loose relationships. Since 1998, a few power-crazed primates and bishops have tried to make us something very different. I'm not buying their new curia. And I don't think any of my fellow parishioners will, either. I became an Episcopalian, not a member of The WorldWide Anglican Communion. I bet that's true of most Episcopalians.

Let Rowan and his Roman-wannabes do what they will. I'm not going with him and them, nor (I think) will my fellow parishioners.

8/14/2008 9:07 PM  
Blogger --Susan said...

Lisa,
I do appreciate the distinction between the bloggers and the church's official news. I occasionally checked in on TEC website but didn't find much to satisfy me.

I do believe that news, any news, is not unbiased. Any reporter, any news outlet has his/her own perspectives, own history, own lenses. Those of receiving the news have our own perspectives, own history, own lenses. Having said that, however, I do believe that news can be balanced. I believe that news from a source such as TEC SHOULD be balanced, presenting all the issues, all the perspectives as much as reasonably possible. It makes a statement that folks had to go to other sources to get news about a significant event in our own church.

You raise excellent questions about what should we expect or request given the dearth of "good" (whatever that is) official news from the church. I do think we should expect TEC to provide appropriate coverage. I guess my/our definition of "appropriate" is different that TEC's. Is there any way to hold them accountable to non-sanitized bytes?

As for the Anglican Communion: as I said, I am relatively new to this church. I don't give a rat's whisker about the Anglican Communion. No. That is not exactly true. I do care. I like the concept of the communion. I like the concept of gazillions of Christ's followers being able to worship in concert bound but not restricted by the three stranded rope. It seems to me the Anglican Communion has forgotten how to be Anglican.

But while I may care, my heart is with TEC, particularly my local parish. And I believe that sometimes separation, even divorce, is better for all parties involved.

--Susan

8/15/2008 7:35 AM  
Blogger OKDiane said...

It seems to me if one doesn't see local work as connected to the global initiative of God then that local work is rootless. An international communion of Anglicans is made up of those who understand and practice what is mutually recognized as Anglicanism. It comes together voluntarily to do basically what I understand happened in the bible study and indaba groups, talk and listen.

What matters to me is what is reported to TEC by those from TEC who attend whatever gatherings take place. In my opinion, that's what is available to us in TEC to work with, not in order to sustain communion but to help us discern our local mission.

Bp Rob O’Neill is quoted as saying, “We may not have specific documents and time¬tables, but we are the documents.” I think he's saying what I’m talking about.

Diane

8/17/2008 8:49 PM  

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