Council airs varying views on Journal

Published April 1, 1999

Depending on who is doing the talking, the Anglican Journal is a left-wing rag that muzzles conservative voices or an outlet for right-wing ideas and views. When it comes to news coverage, the Journal is Toronto-focused or it provides wide coverage of national church affairs. It has a predilection for controversy or it offers a balanced presentation of events. Like hardy perennials, concerns about the church’s national newspaper popped up at the recent COGS meeting which aired a range of views and perceptions about the newspaper’s role. Operating under a General Synod mandate and editorial guidelines approved by the Council of General Synod, the Anglican Journal is the church’s national newspaper but is not the church’s official voice. But then, as Rev. Fraser Lawton of the Diocese of Athabasca said, not everyone has read the mandate under which the paper operates. The result, he said, is a widespread perception that it is the church’s voice and that “what they see and read is not what they expect.” Calling on the paper to adopt a more pro-active role in seeking out and publishing more “good news stories,” Mr. Fraser said the Journal sometimes shows more interest in controversy than in uplifting and positive stories. Some speakers noted disinterest in the Journal by Anglicans in their area. “If we simply distributed the diocesan paper and not distribute the Journal there would be no feedback,” said Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador bishop Don Harvey. Bishop Thomas Morgan of Saskatoon worried that, like society and secular media, the Journal had adopted an adversarial stance – a “polarizing model that could be self-destructive.” However, noting the role played by the Journal in church matters, Rev. Baxter Park of the Military Ordinariate praised the paper for providing opportunities for dialogue. “I want a newspaper not a newsletter,” he said. The Primate, Archbishop Michael Peers noted the Journal’s international reputation and wide readership. “It acts as an antidote, particularly in Africa, to the notion that if it is credible it has to come from England,” he said. “The Church Times is not the paper of the Anglican Communion the way it once was. The Journal is in there in a big way.” Fielding charges of a liberal bias, Rev. David Harris, the Journal’s editor since 1996, said he has offered space to conservative groups and individuals. However, because they view church headquarters – 600 Jarvis Street – as a “bastion of liberals” many do not want to engage in dialogue, he said. Ironically, Mr. Harris said even before he took over as editor some liberals predicted he would shift the Journal to the right because he was from Nova Scotia. Some liberals continue to hold that view, he said. Mr. Harris said the Journal does not shy away from controversy. “You don’t write about houses when they are not burning, but you can’t ignore them when they are.”


Related Posts

Skip to content