It’s My Turf, Get Off Of It!

Turf gets in the way of collaborative media
production. Turf protection is self-defeating.
(I am posting a series of thoughts on the disengagement of the mainline denominations from mainstream media over the past thirty years that results in the absence of the mainline voice from the public dialogue. This is the tenth installment.)

My experience as a communications officer at an international agency in this era (1980-1990) led me to conclude that turf issues also undermined effectiveness. An organization in decline moves into a regulatory and control phase that is more than stultifying, it is self-defeating.

Communications policies in the organization where I worked were not about externalizing information for the good of the audience. They were designed to control and restrict the flow of information, primarily because this was perceived as necessary for survival.

In the absence of an integrated, strategic plan, turf battles occurred over who could release information and about what could be released. This was essentially a defensive, reactive posture to the media and internally it was about control.

But even then new media were breaking down the gatekeeping function. Others, using various media quite effectively addressed our core audiences, often describing us inaccurately and misleadingly. We lost control of our own messaging. If you don’t tell your own story, someone else will, and you may not like the telling.

Secondly, the tendency has been to see the media primarily as a means for advocacy. Advocacy is a critical function but it deserves a more considered and careful approach than it gets, especially in the present environment. To advocate for the poor and disenfranchised, as in the recent immigration demonstrations, is essential and appropriate. It deserves a proactive, strategic approach.

As we seek to understand the teachings of Jesus and follow in the Way of those teachings, the mainline can frame ideas and support important interpretations of faith–the earth is created of God and we are commended to tend it with care, the people of the earth are a global community challenged to overcome mortal enmity, each person is a child of God and everyone should get a fair shake in the global economy, we should care for all children and provide them with education and health care to grow in mind and body.
We believe that followers of Jesus are called to live compassionately, for justice and in service. We believe the world is God’s Creation and, therefore, a good place, and that life is given to us as a gift to be lived with meaning and purpose. We believe that science and theology are complementary rather than mutually incompatible (The Book of Discipline, The United Methodist Church, para. 160. E) and, therefore, we don’t have to check our minds at the door of the church.

These are but a few, and they aren’t radical and limiting, they are inclusive and expansive. That’s the strength of mainline religious communities, they call us to stand with each other, and for each other. They teach us that there is a common good. They have much that is appealing when they articulate these propositions in a way that makes them understandable and inviting. But unless we all want to go down together, we can’t continue to say internally or externally, “It’s my turf, get off of it!”

Join the conversation!

Post a reply in the form below.

Leave a Reply:

Gravatar Image