Tronson du Coudray's art work Ocean Waves illustrating the main stream
This is an article on the nature of Christian News.
In 2008 the then 'Christian Today' editor sought me out as a columnist, and then shortly afterwards, as a theological and philosophical advisor. Over these past years it has also been my privilege to introduce a team of young sports writers, followed by young Comment writers and then, a team of New Zealand and International young writers.
Christian Today hosts 85 young writers providing these young people a voice. Part of this mentoring process is that Christian Today encourages their articles to be re-published elsewhere, both in hard copy and online versions with appropriate attributions.
One of the interesting processes involved is necessarily changing over of 'hats'. As the mentor of these young writers, 15-20 articles each week come to our team of editors and finally to me before being sent into Christian Today for for the following week. It is a well oiled system.
Christian Today recheck the articles before publication, and only occasionally I get a call or a text from the editor questioning an article's specific phraseology or possibly a better way to present their case.
When this occurs, my young writer mentoring hat is removed and my Christian Today theological and philosophical advisory hat is put on (so to speak) and editorial work is enacted upon the article. Sometimes it simply means that a closing sentence requires an addition of some kind.
Tronson du Coudray's art work Spring Hurrah illustrating the main stream
Articles from the wire
Another role involves answering enquiries and questions sent to Christian Today regarding published articles drawn down 'from the wire' – these articles comes from many different original sources but are distributed to all Christian media by a number of (for want of a phrase), 'Christian media distribution agencies'
Some of these are Australian based Christian media distribution agencies such as Ramon Williams - http://au.christiantoday.com/article/ramon-williams-a-hero-of-australian-christian-media/14640.htm - others are international. It is up to each editor of Christian publications (on-line or hard copy) as to whether an article gets published.
Christian Today might receive on-line say, 3,000 articles in any 24 hour period – plus the staff look at other Christian publications. For example, under agreement, Christian Today Australia regularly re-publishes articles that have already been published in the US Christian Post, or the UK's Christian Today, and such like.
When an article might require some further consideration before publishing in Christian Today Australia, it often comes my way for theological and philosophical reflection. It is my role to then send my suggestions back to Christian Today Australia, who ultimately have the final determination. I now have a team of two theologians set aside to help this this.
Likewise, some of the articles that draw correspondence – they too can be sent to me to draft an answer. To illustrate, not that long ago a UK wire article was published and a Christian agency in Melbourne emailed Christian Today questioning the validity of publishing that item. The news item highlighted a US Christian agency involved in theological controversy which the Melbourne group disapproved and therefore thought it should not have been given column space.
In other words, they were looking for theological censorship retaining their particular line.
Tronson du Coudray's art work Agitation Hurrah illustrating the main stream
The theological question of Christian News
Christian News can be tricky. Is an item coming over the wire "news" or is it a news item couched in theologically worded wizardry which presents "opinion"?
Christian conferences are rarely straight news, as the philosophy of the conference organisers reveals where they are theologically, and the speakers they draw follow along such lines. There is nothing wrong with this, this is the norm, however editors then have the ongoing decision as to where that fits in a Christian News format. We have several young writers each year cover the Hillsong conference with huge readership.
Denominational media reporting on their own conferences don't face this question. But most Christian conferences are run by networks and therefore editors are faced with this question. For example, the Pentecostals hold innumerable such conferences all over the world. The wire is full of them. The Pentecostal media machine is well oiled.
Another example, is the subject of homosexuality. When the former Archbishop of Canterbury spoke on this subject, favouring a lightening up, was that valid Christian News for conservative on-line Christian news media to publish? Or do they only publish it, if the Archbishop's view concurs with their own theological position? It's tricky.
Tronson du Coudray's art work Turning Points illustrating the main stream
Christian News for Christian Today Australia
My comments to Christian Today Australia has been to aim for the "main stream". In my view it is dangerous to become known as a publisher of only very conservative 'news' and 'opinions' – that is not publishing 'Christian News', rather its theologically weighted and fails the Christian News test. Likewise the radical liberal and lefties, and whatever else is dished up over the wire.
Main Stream allows a wide cross section of material to be published from off the wire. So too our young writers whose broad ideas in theology and philosophy are well received.
Christian Today also publishes news items from the 'wire news' regarding Catholic and Orthodox matters along with many wire stories of horrid Christian persecution and the wickedness of martyrdom. The persecution of the Egyptian Copts is indeed Christian news is the ISIS persecution to Arab Christians. Some of these wire stories come from Assist News Service run by Dan Wooding, a world wide Christian news agency.
My own daily column covers as broad a spectrum of topics. I even have one or two helpers who research and gather material. It's emphasis is main stream and needs to be for a main stream 'Christian News' publication.
Christian Today Australia has developed into a well groomed main stream on-line Christian News sheet, constantly updated and yet it does cover the far right and far left as it fits within this philosophical Christian News cycle. (au.christiantoday.com/aboutus)
Tronson du Coudray's art work Appetite illustrating the main stream
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html