Valuing the news: The Chronicle’s vital role
All derive from a common source that Alex S. Jones describes as the “iron-core” of fact-based, objective, original news reporting. Other forms of journalism emanate from this nucleus of news and are fueled by the information it provides. Jones, a Pulitzer Prize recipient and a fourth-generation member of a newspaper family, sounds an alarm about the significant decline of “iron-core” reporting and identifies threats to its future in his 2009 book “Losing the News: The Future of the News That Feeds Democracy.”
As I read Jones’ case for the essentiality of “the news of verifiability” and the preservation of journalistic standards like objectivity, accuracy and fairness, I repeatedly found myself reflecting on the value of The Christian Chronicle to our fellowship in Churches of Christ.
A great variety of publications exists within our brotherhood: scholarly journals, periodicals with a teaching and doctrinal emphasis and materials designed to equip and train. With few exceptions, each makes a needful contribution to the life of the church, our understanding of Scripture, the constructive discussion of God’s will for his people and brotherly debate about our differences.
However, the Chronicle — with its extensive circulation, broad-scale appeal and mission to “inform, inspire and unite” — plays a unique role in providing a sense of “informed connectedness” among a diverse, worldwide family of autonomous congregations.
With its global reach, the Chronicle makes available a volume of information to which few of us otherwise would have access. With the demands of local ministry and responsibilities to my family consuming most of my time and energy, “I don’t get out much,” in the sense of being highly networked and connected to Christians in other places. For me and a multitude of others, the Chronicle provides a reliable source of “the news that we use” from churches around the world.
The Chronicle’s print edition, supplemented with e-mail blasts and a regularly updated Web site, shares news that can prompt our prayers, affirm our faith, inspire our actions, break our hearts and stir our concern. The breadth of coverage ensures that news is gathered from churches large and small, urban and rural, affluent and poverty-stricken, foreign and domestic.
The newspaper’s commitment to objective reporting means that its stories generally lack both the latest buzzwords and the most sacred shibboleths that often appear in other publications.
Editorials and opinion pieces are clearly identified and distinguished from news items. Events and activities are advertised and reported from across the full spectrum and landscape of Churches of Christ. The achievement of objectivity and fairness in its reporting is validated by the fact that periodic criticism of the Chronicle includes charges that its news coverage and editorial positions reflect a stance that is both “too conservative” and “too liberal.”
I interpret such disparity of criticism as an indication of a journalistic “mission accomplished.” Each of us has the freedom to agree or disagree or be encouraged or disheartened by the information that the Chronicle provides.
This level of excellence has not gone unnoticed in the larger world of journalism: In 2009, the Chronicle was recognized as the top national newspaper in the “Best of the Christian Press” contest sponsored by the Associated Church Press.
The Chronicle makes this great variety of news available at virtually no cost to its readers. With revenue for the paper largely generated through advertising and private donations, I have received the Chronicle for years based on a $20 subscription fee that I paid long ago. I spend nearly that much every single month to receive the Tulsa World, a daily newspaper often filled with disturbing and depressing information and nothing that approaches the news of eternal significance that I receive from the Chronicle.
I periodically make additional donations to the Chronicle and encourage you to do the same if you share my appreciation of its value.
While only the Spirit of God possesses the power to unite us through faith in Jesus Christ, the Chronicle serves to ensure that we are aware of what is happening among Christians in other places and that congregational autonomy does not mean isolation and insulation from our brothers and sisters around the world.
When I am sometimes tempted to think that Churches of Christ are hopelessly polarized and separated from one another, the Chronicle reminds me that far more unites us than divides us in the body of Christ. Alex Jones believes that the “iron core” of news is essential to our freedom and the well-being of democracy in America. Similarly, I believe that the journalistic excellence of the Chronicle significantly and positively contributes to our spiritual health and awareness as a brotherhood of believers.
TIM PYLES is the preaching minister at the Broken Arrow Church of Christ in Oklahoma. His Thinking Out Loud blog can be read at www.timpyles.com . Contact him at [email protected] .