Papa Publisher Mixes Jesus and Journalism
Today’s Twittersphere got a tad wound up about the Christmas Day publisher’s note from the San Diego Union-Tribune’s new fearless (and Jesus-loving) leader Doug Manchester.
The open letter, “A day to count blessings and share happiness,” began as such:
Dear fellow San Diegans,
Christmas is ever spiritual because it celebrates the birth of a child more than 2,000 years ago whose arrival on Earth defines all the dates of history. No other individual, before or since, has so influenced mankind as Jesus Christ. As the dawn breaks on this Christmas morning, we rise to celebrate the day marking the birth of the Christ child, a day dedicated to “good tidings of great joy.”
Here’s a brief sampling from some chatter in the echo chamber:
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, military, business. RT @citybeatkelly: Note from Papa Doug in yesterday’s U-T is, um, unique. bit.ly/sc1slG
Sara/Karma Sara/Karma @karmiclife: @drolland @citybeatkelly I never got past the Jesus part.
In fairness to Mr. Manchester, he mentioned each word or phrase once each: “Jesus Christ,” “Christ” and “God.” He just managed to knock two of them out in the first paragraph.
The online chattering critics were followed by a few comical askance looks from those who did not see the big fuss, such as this little gem:
Tom Mitchell @mitchelltommy: Forgive my ignorance, but what is the fuss over Doug Manchester’s note in the U-T?
The debate reminds me of a friend who loves the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, except for the “Jesus” part.
However, even Wikipedia defines Christmas as “an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ, celebrated generally on December 25 as a religious and cultural holiday by billions of people around the world.”
For those “culturally” Christian types, talking openly about the birth of Jesus probably isn’t a comfortable topic especially in a newspaper. But as I told a fellow blogger friend last week, Americans seem entirely too polite about such topics, which include politics and money.
By all definitions, Christmas is a Christian celebration denoting the birth of Christ. Many Americans probably fall somewhere on the sliding scale of Christian beliefs and probably not so pronounced.
Though, many other Americans during the holiday season celebrate other religious beliefs, and Americans hold their right to religious freedom as a most sacred fundamental right.
Does this publisher’s note seem overt to the exclusion of San Diegans with varying religious beliefs?
Interpretations aside, it certainly tells us in no uncertain terms the direction in which the organization views such deeply held beliefs.
Boy, would I love to have been a wee mouse in the corner during the editorial meeting when that piece was discussed.
It’s worth noting that at the tail end of the letter, Manchester states:
I take the stewardship of San Diego’s primary and most significant media very seriously. We will adhere to the highest standard of journalistic integrity and objectivity. We will do our part to be a positive force in our diverse community as we create a superior newspaper and a complement of digital information sources.
Perhaps SDUT Editor Jeff Light could illuminate us on these and other editorial decisions when he speaks at the Public Relations Society breakfast on January 31.
- Follow me @erica_holloway.