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Reflections on 60th edition of ‘Inside Story’

This is the 60th column I’ve written for “Inside Story.”
So let me salute every editor, journalist and writer who slaves over deadlines to serve readers without fail. Like the minister who must go up to the pulpit or every teacher who must approach the classroom again, I know it is much easier to face the task early and with conviction than to press on with excellence time after time.
For 60 months, our Editorial Council has met around the table to serve our mission: To inform, inspire and unite through journalistic excellence. If we have a secret here, that is it. We get the best folks we can find and then we work well together.

So it is appropriate that I remind readers who those Editorial Council members are: Lynn McMillon, Bailey McBride, Lindy Adams, Erik Tryggestad and Joy McMillon. Each one is valuable for their skills, journalistic experience, and spiritual depth. Tonda Stafford and Virginia Ware provide the services that keep us moving.

The best thing about my job hasn’t been the visibility of this column or the joys of getting to see this grand old newspaper redesigned and renewed for another 60 years of service. (That was my charge when I came back to the Chronicle nearly six years ago.)

The best thing is having a working-lunch with these special people every week. We pray, we talk and we laugh as our box lunches drip down our chins and as the coming issue takes shape on the planning boards.

We collect and analyze news. We work together to evaluate the importance of each item. We work out challenges related to developing stories.

We talk, and sometimes share the pain of our mistakes together, too.

Let me also salute the readers, contributors and advertisers who hold up the arms of our little band of Christian journalists who seek to faithfully deliver truthful, balanced, inspiring, informative and instructive news.

It has been 60 months for me, but last year we celebrated 60 years of The Christian Chronicle. That is a lot of dollars, pages and lives involved.
Like every effective citizen of God’s kingdom, we need our allies, people who understand what it is like to bear the responsibilities of trying to excell as Christian journalists.

I have some of these allies’ notes in a drawer so I can read them whenever I get one of those other letters – the kind that if read between the lines say, “You are the handworker of Satan….” Or “You are a fool.” Or “You say you like truth, but really you’re a liar.” Or “You gave the other side more attention than my side.”

There haven’t been many of the second type of letter, but they sting when we read them because we really do care, regardless what our critics think. I wish I could name most of my personal allies because we share a deep love of the truth and the Lord’s church.

It is true that out of 60 columns, I’ve made a few mistakes. A couple of years ago I wrote a column apologizing for having been on the so-called “Naughty List” for my errors of the past year. (See “Any takers for holiday guilt, er, I mean, joy?” December 2001.) I could write a similar column every year.

But 60 columns later, I stand by the first 1,000 words I wrote. (Back then, each column was only 500 words, but now I get a whopping 700-800 in which to say something important.)

In that first column in January 2000, I wrote, “Faith does not change, but all our lives have taken a new shape.”

We were preparing to reformat, redesign and rethink our newspaper and our mission. In the next month’s column, I wrote that the Chronicle is “like a family history and scrapbook” being compiled each month from the materials of the present.

In that first year’s columns, I repeatedly returned to what I judged to be the themes of Christian journalism.

Sixty columns later, I remain convinced that it is a worthy goal to produce a newspaper which seeks through journalistic excellence to inform, inspire and unite Christians.

Sixty columns later, I hope you think so, too.

CONTACT SCOTT LaMASCUS at [email protected]

Filed under: Inside Story Staff Reports

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