Thursday, July 24, 2008

Try connecting the d****d dots, George

There's been some discussion here and there on the blogosphere about which of the folk covering Lambeth are "reporters" and which are "shills" or "mouthpieces."

Thing is, there are a lot of people who are not objective reporters in any meaningful sense. They are reporting with a perspective.

In the PR biz, we generally call these people "commentators" rather than "reporters." The best and most ethical of them will admit to the distinction.

I'd call George Conger of Religious Intelligence a commentator. I don't know that he'd agree.

That said, while commentators are not bound by the same standards for balance, they are still bound by the requirement for fundamental honesty. A commentator may legitimately say that Stephane Dion's "Green Shift" plan is an empty shell that won't do any more for the environment than when he named his dog Kyoto. (I happen to agree with that.) A commentator may not legitimately say that Stephane Dion's plan is actually designed to aggravate greenhouse gasses and global warming.

So I was a little surprised by one of George Conger's recent articles.

George says that rumours of one Nigerian bishop defying the Nigerian boycott of Lambeth "have proven false."

Later in the article, he quotes Nigerian Primate Peter Akinola as saying: "any Nigerian who may have chosen to flout our provincial and collective decision will have to answer to the general synod. It as simple as that."

Then he reports: "The Rt Rev Cyril Okorocha, Bishop of Owerri, Nigeria on July 19 faxed a letter to the conference saying he would like to attend, as he was visiting his son in Manchester."

Later still, he refers to a report in the Times of London. "After The Times reported that threats had been made against the wife of Bishop Okorocha, a ban on the names of bishops present [at Lambeth] was imposed."

Now, even a five year old knows how to play connect the dots.

But since George Conger seems to be less adept than the average five year old, I'll draw a metaphorical picture.

  • +Cyril says he's coming to Lambeth.

  • +Peter threatens that any Nigerian bishop attending Lambeth will be hauled up in front of the Nigerian General Synod.

  • The Nigerian Synod is not known for defying the dictates of its Primate.

  • There are unspecified threats by persons unknown against +Cyril's wife.

  • +Cyril doesn't turn up at Lambeth.

I don't think that's a very fanciful presentation of the facts.

Actually, I think you'd have to be pretty dim to miss the connections.

But George either fails to see them - or deliberately ignores them.

Draw your own conclusions.

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