This week’s Church Times press column is available on day of publication and is written by the Editor himself.
Read Press: Saying no to the media by Paul Handley which includes this:
…THE RELATIONSHIP between the press and the conference organisers — mediated through the media team — is deteriorating nicely. Having been told earlier that journalists could not attend the cell groups, the indaba groups, or the “self-select” seminars, and some of the plenaries, it was found that the fringe meetings were also out of bounds, unless the meeting organiser agreed otherwise. A journalist had been ejected from a meeting (on the subject of mediation) the previous evening.
The latest news was that members of the press were also barred from the 7.15 a.m. eucharist, because “it is important for bishops and their wives to be able to worship freely”. The image conjured up was of obtrusive television interviews being conducted at the communion rail. Journalists do actually know how to behave themselves during services. It felt like dragging our Lord into the organisational pettiness. The least the organisers could do is to lay on a public eucharist before the bishops’ service.
THE OTHER ROW on Tuesday was about a list of those attending. This has not yet been forthcoming — and might never come forth — because of “security reasons” (10.30 a.m. press conference) or “privacy laws” (1.30 p.m. press conference).
We did wonder, briefly, whether the security reasons had something to do with Radovan Karadzic masquerading as Rowan Williams (see below); but the Archbishop later visited Dave Walker’s cartoon tent, and there was no hint of a Serbian accent.
Lots of press questions were about the presence of bishops from provinces that had previously announced that they were boycotting the conference. “Nigerian bishops” (10.30 a.m. press conference) changed to “a fax from a Nigerian bishop indicating that he was coming” by 1.30 p.m. “So,” a German reporter asked dryly, “the fax is here but not the bishop?”
After a tetchy discussion about all these restrictions, a journalist asked, without a hint of irony: “What, then, is the point of our being here?” A member of the media team said grumpily afterwards: “Well, you asked to come here.”