Monday, March 30, 2009

Report causes a stir but it's not really news

The Episcopal Church’s Standing Commission on Communications may finally be making enough noise to make the Episcopal Church Center in New York pay attention.

In its report to this summer’s General Convention, the commission plainly says what most Episcopal Communicators have known for a while. The church’s Office of Communications is dysfunctional and is showing few signs it will get better any time soon.

The report, published in the 2009 General Convention’s “Blue Book,” has been recently noticed by some conservative bloggers who are calling it a “highly critical” and “stunning” report pointing to internal power struggles within the church.

While the report was critical, it wasn’t malicious. Nor was it breaking news to most of us. The report was, however, spot on in its assessment of the situation.

In a nutshell, the department was left leaderless for way too long. Personnel issues were allowed to fester needlessly. The department has isolated itself from the rest of the denomination’s communications community by in many cases refusing to seek advice before making major decisions, or, asking for advice and repeatedly ignoring it.

The Standing Commission also observes their mission has been “severely hampered” when its budget was reduced to zero at the 2006 convention.

The national office also continues to totally ignore the Commission’s request for information, particularly what the church is spending on Episcopal Church communications, program expenses or information technology costs.

The report also expresses much-needed support for communications on a diocesan and parish level, noting that short-sighted budget cuts are thinning the ranks of both publications and personnel, neither of which the church can really afford.

They submit several good resolutions, including creating a position of technology czar, to encourage data sharing within the church and a call for a communications technology audit.

Let’s hope the newly hired director of communications, Ann Rudig, will take the report seriously and move to solve these issues quickly.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Daily You

Nicholas Kristof, a conservative op-ed contributor to The New York Times, understands the brave new world of RSS feeds and Google news alerts can be scary indeed.

A world without editors -- trained professionals that deliver a coherent, balanced package of news and information to readers -- could harm society.

Read his column here.