Veteran journalist writes Rowan on press relations at Lambeth

Reports of tension between the media and organizers of the Lambeth Conference inspired longtime Anglican affairs writer Doug LeBlanc to pen the following open letter to Archbishop Rowan Williams:

The Most Reverend and Right Honorable Rowan Williams

The Archbishop of Canterbury

The University of Kent, Canterbury Campus

Your Grace,

I have always been grateful that ten years ago, when media relations at the Lambeth Conference felt about as chilly as they could be, you made yourself available for a series of one-on-one interviews one afternoon at the media center. I was one of the reporters who interviewed you that afternoon, and your gesture impressed me as a genuine act of hospitality in a less than hospitable environment for reporters.

I cannot adequately express my dismay at reading about how much media relations have declined, by comparison, at this year’s Lambeth Conference. Widespread and credible accounts of journalists being turned away even from self-select events; barred from moments of the Church at her best, such as the Holy Eucharist; kept away from the Conference’s central meeting place by a fence; and told even where they are free to purchase meals (see “The Lambeth Conference: Keeping the media at arm’s length” by Pat Ashworth of Church Times) make me feel shame on behalf of whatever advisers thought it wise to adopt these policies.

I plead with you, Your Grace, to have this Lambeth Conference treat reporters for what they are: Men and women paid to seek the truth and write about it. It’s not too late for this conference to repent of one sin it should not have repeated from a decade ago. Please turn this Lambeth Conference away from treating journalists with a fear and suspicion unworthy of the Body of Christ.

Yours in Our Lord,

Douglas LeBlanc

Chesterfield, Virginia

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