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the decline (and fall?) of epiScope and ENS

I'm posting this here and on Anglicana, as I'm really scratching my head here, and would be grateful for any sensible explanation of what's gone wrong and when and how it will be remedied.

I have two questions:

1) What happened to epiScope?

You remember epiScope -- the brilliant blog that kept us on top of news from around the world of interest to Anglicans, and that served as a valuable and amazingly timely corrective to errors made by the secular press (understandable errors -- the Anglican world is a complicated one requiring much nuancing to negotiate and communicate) in their coverage of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

Well, epiScope seems to be gone. I assumed at first it was because all of the resources of the Episcopal News Services (ENS) were concentrated on Lambeth, but that clearly isn't a good explanation because:

a) some of ENS's best and most senior reporters were not at Lambeth at all, and provided no coverage of it; and

b) the quality of epiScope has, if anything, continued to nose-dive after Lambeth.

I've stopped reading epiScope, as skimming its RSS feed, when I've bothered to do it (pretty easy to do, since it's not being updated anywhere near as frequently), has shown it mostly to be a regurgitation of ENS bulletins. That brings me to my next question:

2) What on earth has happened to the Episcopal News Service?

I have often joked that, much as certain flavored substances must, since they don't contain enough of the real thing, call themselves "cheese-food" or a syrup "full of chocolatey goodness," there are some television shows and paper publications that ought to call themselves "news-food" that is "full of newsy goodness."

ENS has, I'm surprised and sorry to say, become of late "news-food." Where's the news? Where's the analysis?

I've pretty much stopped reading ENS as well. I deeply respect Solange de Santis, whom I got to know a bit at General Convention in 2006. I wish her well in her new position. And I hope she can do something to revitalize ENS, which, to my eyes, took a sharp dive in quality just prior to Lambeth and has yet to recover. I hope she's embarking on a major course correction that would allow it to recover.

And while I'm thinking of it, that leads to a third question:

3) Where's the accountability?

I'm not even remotely close to the first person who has noticed these things. Was our Standing Commission on Communications consulted through or about whatever it is that's impeding ENS's effectiveness? Were a cross-section of Episcopal Communicators asked for feedback? What's been the feedback from secular media about the Church Center's effectiveness in helping them to cover accurately matters related to The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion? Or has their feedback been sought?

How are decisions made regarding The Episcopal Church's communications, and where do the opinions of these people, and of ordinary Episcopalians, enter into such processes?

September 12, 2008 in Churchiness | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack