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Responding to the Sept. 2011 Messenger.

The activity on the internet surrounding the September, 2011 issue of the Messenger, began long before the magazine landed in my mailbox on September 23rd. Naturally, this issue was the Messenger's opportunity to report on the events of Annual Conference. With that, they also had a chance to show the entire denomination journalistic objectivity or editorial bias.

You don't even need to open the magazine to see what they choose. When I saw the cover, I thought I was looking at a Marvel comic book. An innocent, sweet damsel {complete with a rainbow scarf} was on the cover. The picture shows her unknowingly in grave danger. What danger? The Incredible Hulk is poised behind her, ready to attack. (The Hulk would be the unflattering photo of Jim Myer, made even more unflattering by the Photoshop job done on the picture.)

There has already been a great deal said about the words inside, so I'll not add much to that brouhaha. The old cliché, a picture is worth a thousand words is really quite valid, when you look at this cover photo. In the case of the Messenger, the thousands of words inside simply echo the cover.

The editorial pieces and the letters to the editor are full of loaded emotional language and "verbalism", which is the logical fallacy of using abundant words without much meaning. They are also devoid of any Biblical support for their arguments

So, I'll just return to the cover. By the way, my BA is in Communication, so I know how media works. I can only speculate, but I imagine that when the photo was chosen from the abundance of pictures taken at Annual Conference, it was likely seen as the "perfect" picture to encapsulate a progressive spin on Conference. Using a photo, in this manner, is the pictorial equivalent of using a quotation out of context.

The photo also implies several dichotomies: young vs. old, sweet vs. mean, female vs. male. This was quite a photo op !

We could have had a very accurate depiction of Conference with a photo of the overwhelming majority of those at conference standing to approve the final decision of the delegate body.

I will offer a brief commentary on one statement made in the Messenger. The "P.S." to Mrs. McFadden's opening salvo as the publisher, "Yeah, I know. Clearly I'm preaching to the choir."

Indeed, that is exactly what she was doing. However, her "choir" is quite small. I believe I mentioned before, the Messenger has a circulation of around 11,000. The COB is a denomination of approximately 123,000 to 124,000. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt that two people read each copy. With that assumption, the Messenger is not even reaching 25% of the Church of the Brethren's membership.

With the clear current editorial spin, I would not anticipate that their circulation is going to grow. If Mrs. McFadden wants to see more people subscribe to the Messenger, perhaps an editorial shift to represent the actual majority of the COB would help.

What part of this year's Annual Conference decision is so hard to understand? The delegates clearly spoke, with a strong majority.