From the Editor: A strictly local paper

By Terence Moore

I decided early in my tenure as editor that the Rupert’s Land News should focus tightly on the Rupert’s Land worshipping community and its members. I have more or less stuck to that principle. It may be time to think that through once again – and a new editor might come to a different view.

I became notorious for announcing at the annual gathering of Anglican editors that my editorial focus was strictly local. A story for the Rupert’s Land News, I told my colleagues each year, must have the name Rupert’s Land or the name of a Rupert’s Land person, place or parish in the first two paragraphs. If that ingredient is missing, it may be a wonderful story but it is not a story for the Rupert’s Land News.

The Rupert’s Land News, I thought, should not look like an expression from some indeterminate place. It should look like an expression from here.

For similar reasons, I did not want to decorate the newspaper with generic images collected from Internet sources. The Rupert’s Land News, I thought, should not look like an expression from some indeterminate place. It should look like an expression from here – the Red River Valley, the Southern Interlake, Winnipeg and from now on the southern part of Northwestern Ontario. So even for allegorical images illustrating abstract themes, I thought it was better to shoot original photographs here and tell the readers when and where they were shot.

Agencies and departments of the national church sometimes seek publicity for their good works in the pages of the Rupert’s Land News. They can have it, but they need to tell us a story about Rupert’s Land. Some know how to do that.

In applying that principle, I extended the idea of Rupert’s Land to encompass our companion diocese of Central Buganda. Our Central Buganda correspondent, LP Mulondo, frequently files stories that are directly related to Rupert’s Land people and parishes. Many people and parishes here have played important roles in the life of the Ugandan church.

Even when there is no explicit Rupert’s Land angle to his articles, LP tells us about the lives and circumstances of Ugandan people we pray for every week. For that reason, I have treated Central Buganda stories as coming within the ambit of Us Here – a large Us and a large Here.

Rupert’s Land and its people have something to say to the entire world, including readers in far countries who have a smart phone and a search engine but have never heard of Rupert’s Land.

This was a good principle for a newspaper delivered by the Post Office to 4,000 households almost all of which lie within the Diocese of Rupert’s Land. It may not be such a good principle for a communication vehicle that offers itself to all of Cyberspace.

Rupert’s Land and its people have something to say to the entire world, including readers in far countries who have a smart phone and a search engine but have never heard of Rupert’s Land. Readers of the Rupert’s Land News Online may stumble upon our articles because they did a search for discipleship or sanctuary or refugees. A tight focus on Rupert’s Land is of little interest to those readers and may even get in the way of a writer who has something interesting to tell them.

The new editor may want to keep in mind both kinds of reader – the local and the distant – in deciding what constitutes a story worth covering and how it should be shaped and presented. It’s worth a try.

Rupert’s Land probably does not have the resources to produce two distinct discourses – one for Us Here and one for Cyberspace. The newspaper, at least for now, provides the content for the online vehicle we are now launching. The new editor may want to keep in mind both kinds of reader – the local and the distant – in deciding what constitutes a story worth covering and how it should be shaped and presented. It’s worth a try.

By Terence Moore