A multitude of misperceptions
July 20 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

A multitude of misperceptions | Friday, July 20, 2001

Friday, July 20, 2001

A multitude of misperceptions

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor There is an inaccurate but often-repeated misconception that the Biblical Recorder provides too much coverage - or slanted coverage - of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) or other "moderate" Baptist issues. These charges are unfounded, but repeated often enough that I need to address them. First, several truths must be considered:

(1) Some who say we have too much CBF coverage believe that even one article is too many.

(2) Other critics want us to cover the CBF but only from a biased and critical point of view. Some readers believe that, if their own bias is not reflected in an article, we must be biased in the other direction. We are committed, however, to a fair and objective presentation of the news that impacts N.C. Baptists, whatever our individual opinions.

(3) Some folks formed their perception of the Recorder years ago, and no longer bother to read it - yet they continue to criticize, as if they know what we do.

(4) Some say we should ignore the CBF because only 5-7 percent of the BSC churches support the CBF through the Baptist State Convention (BSC), but they fail to account for the many BSC churches that contribute to the CBF directly, and the many individuals who contribute to the CBF. One cannot assume that all churches that don't send money to the CBF are supporters of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Last year, nearly one-fifth of all BSC churches gave zero dollars through the Cooperative Program.

It is reasonable to suggest that hardly more than 20 percent of N.C. Baptists show any real involvement in denominational life. Of those who care about such things, a large percentage either support the CBF or are interested in it.

One could argue, then, that it would be appropriate for the Biblical Recorder to devote a comparably large percentage of its space to the CBF.

We don't do that, however. First of all, we don't play percentage games when choosing news. We publish the news that is most relevant to N.C. Baptists without regard to whether it relates to the BSC, SBC, the CBF, Conservative Carolina Baptists (CCB), Mainstream Baptists of North Carolina (MBNC), the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), or any other group of Baptist people.

Be that as it may, here are some numbers that reflect the true story:

During the past calendar year (from the second July issue in 2000 through the first July issue in 2001), we printed 426 stories related in some way to the BSC, the SBC, or the CBF (we did not count the many short BSC-related items from "Church Events" and "Around the State" or national-interest stories that don't relate specifically to Baptists).

Of those stories, 57.3 percent were about the BSC, 36 percent about the SBC, and 6.7 percent about the CBF. One who plays the space-percentage game could argue that we are clearly biased in favor of the SBC, which got more than 5 times the coverage devoted to CBF. The bulk of our coverage, of course, relates to the BSC.

I have heard some people claim that we show an unfair preference for Associated Baptist Press (ABP) to the exclusion of Baptist Press (BP). We actually rely on our own staff (42.8 percent) and BSC contributors (30 percent) for the majority of our news. Beyond that, 9.6 percent of our stories were from BP and 8.4 percent from ABP. Another 8.4 percent were compiled from multiple wire reports. When choosing news sources, we use the material we believe is most accurate and objective.

On page two, the editorial pieces I wrote during the past year were mostly devotional or reflective (52 percent). Thirty-six percent related to the BSC, 6.9 percent related to SBC issues, one editorial (less than 1 percent) dealt with CBF, and 4.6 percent were public issue-oriented.

Our "Tar Heel Voices" (letters to the editor) on pages two and three reflect the mail we actually receive from readers. Twenty-four percent represented a clearly conservative point of view, 22 percent a more moderate stance, and 54 percent dealt with other issues or called for readers to quit squabbling and focus on our common mission.

There are some readers who sincerely believe the conflict would go away if the Biblical Recorder became a promotional tool only and did not report on controversial news. I believe that is also a misperception. To censor the Biblical Recorder of news content - or of any single category of news content - would rob it of its very life and usefulness to the kingdom of God.

If the Biblical Recorder put its head in the sand, the conflict would not go away. Baptist Press will continue to publish the SBC leadership's point of view via its Web site and e-mail distribution system. The CBF's fellowship! newsletter and Web site will continue to promote the CBF leadership's perspective. Mailouts produced by CCB, MBNC and other advocacy groups will not cease publication.

If the Biblical Recorder stopped reporting on the news, the BSC's one objective voice would be lost, and the field of opinion-shaping would be left for advocates only. That would be a disservice to N.C. Baptists and a violation of our commission.

When the Biblical Recorder was purchased by the BSC in 1939, a charter of operation and guidance was approved by the messengers. It says the Biblical Recorder exists " ... to bring said periodical to the point of the greatest efficiency and influence in behalf of the causes fostered by said Baptist State Convention, the Baptist cause in general, and the promotion of the kingdom of God on earth; and in order to attain these ends, to maintain and safeguard the inalienable rights and privileges of a free press, these rights and privileges being consistent with the traditional Baptist emphasis upon the freedom, under Christ, of both the human spirit and Baptist churches."

That is our reason for being, and we will stand by it.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
7/20/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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