Including Synodical Guidelines of Accountability
The Mandate of The Banner
Adopted by Synod 2015 (Acts of Synod 2015, p. 641) The Banner is a publication of the Christian Reformed Church in North America rather than an independent magazine. Accordingly, the editorial staff, led by the synodically appointed editor in chief, is accountable to the church for the style and content of this magazine. This accountability to the church is realized in a number of diverse, sometimes overlapping, and at times conflicting responsibilities to various groups and structures within the denomination.
All these responsibilities are governed by The Banner’s synodical mandate to
(1) inform readers about what is happening in the CRC as well as the church at large, (2) provide articles that edify and encourage Christian living, (3) stimulate critical thinking about issues related to the Christian faith and the culture of which we are a part in a way that encourages biblical thinking about these issues, in line with our confessional heritage; and (4) offer tools to help readers find fresh awareness to seek, learn, worship, and serve as Reformed Christians in contemporary society.
Guidelines for The Banner’s Accountability and Freedom
I. Lines of accountability
Lines of accountability have been established by previous decisions of synod and CRC Publications. For the editorial staff, accountability runs through the editor in chief, who is directly accountable to the following:
A. The Council of Delegates, the body mandated by synod to publish this denominational periodical. This accountability includes the following:
- Reporting periodically on editorial activities and decisions.
- Reporting reactions, criticisms, and suggestions received from readers and churches.
- Recommending needed changes in policies and procedures.
- Carrying out all approved policies and procedures.
B. The executive director, the administrative head appointed to manage and coordinate the work of denominational staff. This accountability includes the following:
- Keeping him/her informed of possibly sensitive or controversial issues being addressed and listening seriously to any advice offered regarding such issues. The executive director should, at his/her discretion, consult with other CRC ministry leaders.
- Being fiscally responsible.
- Following approved personnel procedures.
- Working cooperatively with Ministry Support Services.
II. General responsibilities
In addition to this direct accountability, the editorial staff carries general responsibilities inherent in the nature of a denominational magazine:
A. To its subscribers and readers in the Christian Reformed Church for:
- Reporting in an honest and unbiased manner information about activities affecting the church.
- Presenting to the readers the issues pertinent to the life of the church in a way that shows the diverse positions held within the church and encourages biblical and Reformed thinking about these issues.
- Edifying readers so as to encourage them to grow in Christian maturity and faith and to live out their faith in daily life.
- Providing a vehicle through which church members can express their views and opinions on pertinent issues.
B. To the ecclesiastical assemblies (councils, classes, synod) of the CRC for:
- Keeping church members informed about important decisions taken.
- Reporting significant trends or policy directions.
C. To the official agencies of the CRC for:
- Presenting and explaining their ministry on behalf of the churches, making sure the information disseminated is accurate.
- Keeping church members informed about important changes in their programs and personnel.
- Encouraging church members to support and participate in the ministries being carried out.
III. Freedom of editorial staff
In order that it may carry on these diverse responsibilities, the editorial staff must be granted the freedom to do the following:
A. Inform its readers and subscribers about what is occurring in the church (including relevant problems, needs, and concerns) even though some persons, congregations, or agencies may prefer that such information not be disseminated.
B. Investigate and determine the facts regarding any occurrence in the church that appears to merit reporting to readers.
C. Lead and encourage a responsible discussion of the issues important to the life of the church through editorial comment and publication of articles that represent the various views held within the church.
D. Permit people of the church to voice their views and reactions even though some of these views may be unacceptable to others in the church.
E. Provide a biblically prophetic and responsible criticism and evaluation of trends within the church and society and of actions, decisions, policies, programs, etc., being considered by or already approved by ecclesiastical assemblies and agencies.
IV. Editorial integrity
The following guidelines for editorial judgment will be used in determining what materials (editorials, articles, news stories, etc.) are published in the pages of The Banner:
A. The Banner materials should be faithful to Scripture and the confessions.
B. The Banner materials should edify and educate readers.
C. Truth must be written but always in love.
D. Criticism must be constructive and fair.
E. Editing of materials should always maintain the intent of the author while making the writing more effective in presenting the author’s views.
F. No author should be demeaned by editorial comment or by the way an article, column, letter, etc., is presented.
G. Selection of authors should aim at equity of representation (U.S./Canada, minorities, men/women, younger/older, conservative/progressive, etc.).
H. Nothing deliberately inflammatory, insulting, or divisive should be published.
I. Nothing that serves the interest solely of one individual, organization, or group in contrast to other individuals, organizations, or groups or in neglect of the general interest of the churches should be published.
J. The Banner should give preference to CRC authors.
K. Heads/titles should not be misleading or sensational; they should accurately reflect the heart of the story/article.
For more information on what guides The Banner’s editorial team, check out these links: