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Every other month, I write our “Perspectives” column, which focuses on the news of last 30 days, give or take. And after more than a year of writing these semi-regular offerings, I’ve got to say, I’m stumped. I don’t know what to make of the news these days. It’s becoming less clear, to me anyway, what our role is to be in all of it.

Think back to November, when Brian Pallister, leader of the Manitoba Conservative Party, wished fellow Manitobans (of all faiths and none) season’s greetings. Pallister came under fire for his use of the phrase “infidel atheists” in reference to those of no professing faith (as per the dictionary definition of “infidel”) who still take time to get together over the holidays. While the choice of words was undeniably awkward, it seemed fairly clear that no ill will was intended.

Naturally, it got me thinking—could this be a story for ChristianWeek? What’s our role in stories like these? Could this be a look at the complexities of religion in public office? Could we reach out to the group that took offence to Pallister’s remarks and get their perspective on what all the fuss was about?

Or could we ask for comment from Pallister, about what kind of society it is we live in that a guy can’t even say “all the best” without people going bananas over him not saying it just right? Is it our job to report on that?

But in the end, we went in another direction. Best to let it die down, and maybe it wasn’t a story that our readers would connect with.

But the thing is, we don’t know for sure. Our editorial team can talk and speculate all we want—at the end of the day, we have very limited connections to what people are actually thinking and saying about our stories.

Do people really care about what Canada Today columnist Tim Perry has to say about Rob Ford and the Senate scandals? Are people interested in Canadian Sunday School Mission changing its name after nearly a century?

We need to know what you think, and now we’re giving you the chance to weigh in.

It’s no secret that media is changing. As you've seen on our new website, we've added a comment section, making it easy for readers like you to tell us what you think—directly.

It’s our hope that if you’ve got something to say, you’ll do so with the gentleness and respect that so often gets lost in an increasingly hostile online society. But at least now you have the opportunity. So check us out online!

We wouldn’t do what we do if no one was reading, and knowing that we have readers that care makes what we do all the more important. So if you care about making ChristianWeek better, please—let us know what you think. Because in a reader-first media landscape, what you think makes all the difference.

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About the author

Rob Horsley is the former Managing Editor of ChristianWeek.

  • JimVancouver

    If you truly believe his intent was to simply say “all the best” then you should definately cover the story and make a genuine effort to see it from the other side, because I would argue that if that was his intent then he would not have used the awkward “infidel atheists” phrasing. He was attempting to score a “quick win”, as we say in BC, with his party followers. As a community leader he know the power of words, so why would he choose these words?

  • Iamac

    Proverbs 10:19 Don’t talk too much, for it fosters sin. Be sensible and shut off the flow! new living translation

  • Greg Marsh

    Hi

    I appreciate what you and the ChristianWeek editorial board is doing by taking a pulse of readers. One thought I had, though, when I read this column was triggered from your phrase, “maybe it wasn’t a story that our readers would connect with.”

    While this may be true in this and other cases, what you do gain by writing a column about a topic such as Brian Pallister’s comment / wording is the potential to attract comments from existing readers, but also from those who aren’t readers including those who have never heard of ChristianWeek. (Yes, rumour has it there are people like that in our country.)

    It is common today for people to Google a topic that enters the Zeitgeist. If one had searched for “infidel atheists” because of Brian Pallister comment (or whatever term is the the topic of one of your future columns) it would have been nice if your newspaper’s link had appeared. Not only would ChristianWeek gain new input and perspectives in the reader’s forum, you might grow or develop a new audience / market.

    What is considered news and what is reported as news today is certainly far different in nature and tone than years ago. Often we now see soft news end up as a front page story; stories with a highly controversial angle are given prominence (certainly in on-line media) since these draw eyeballs and thereby additional revenue.

    It is easy to see your Perspectives articles becoming that forum for dialogue and disagreement, comment and critique – all in a respectful, civil, engaging forum. I hope you bring those topics and that opportunity to some of your future columns.

    Again thanks for asking our thoughts.