This link will take you to a well done article that summarizes the relevant details of the Bishop Bledsoe episode and also examines the exorbitant costs.
Bishop Bledsoe’s response to the costs? “It is what it is . . . Obviously that money could have been used for other things. I’m not so sure, given the realities of the situation, it could have been any different.”
My first response, “Oh yes, yes it could have.”
My second response: This article is an example of simply superb reporting by journalist Sam Hodges, who was until Thursday, May 31, 2013, the Managing Editor of The United Methodist Reporter.
A storm of forces, including in my opinion, serious short-sightedness by United Methodist Women and by large Annual Conferences who chose to go completely electronic in their communications, led to the closing of this institution. This article in the Dallas Morning News offers a good history of this important and independent voice.Now it is gone. What’s left? Well, there are a bunch of bloggers connected with the UMC. This site aggregates many of those blogs and sends out emails to subscribers with the latest posts. But we, for I am one whose blog is picked up by the Methoblog, are bloggers, after all. We offer opinion pieces, random thoughts, sermon notes, theological labyrinths, and clergy rants and ramblings.
We are not reporters. We are not independent–most of us are appointed clergy, serving at the pleasure (or displeasure) of our respective Bishops. While we can be controversial and ask really important questions, our focus stays with our respective charges.
Opinions are great and can be dashed off fairly quickly while tending to our primary responsibilities–but serious reporting demands full-time attention and a means of financial support.
I do not have a solution here. I do have major concerns. As a nation, the free, independent press has been an important shaping force as we’ve sought to live through this experiment called “democracy.”
Autocratic nations routinely shut down independent voices.
I hope this does not happen to us. But it may be too late.