The Current Guidelines
The publications will reflect The United Methodist Church's commitment to inclusiveness, fairness and balance in its coverage.
Priorities for content are the following:
- News and reports of first-time events and decisions that affect local churches and organizations/agencies within the conference.
- Creative and meaningful ministries of local churches to serve as ideas and models for other local churches and other news of local churches and districts.
- Editorials/columns by the bishop and editor and expressions of personal opinion from readers. These may appear as "views" or as "letters to the editor," and should relate to issues that affect churches and their members. [Material that attacks individuals and anonymous letters will not be considered. Material that violates privacy, affects appointability, or infringes on confidentiality will not be published. In rare cases, names may be withheld upon request and at the discretion of the editor. To protect the privacy of writers, personal information will not be shared with the public.] Suggested length of letters: maximum 200 words.
- Promotion and interpretation of denominational funds/ministries are appropriate especially on extra insert pages, which may be funded by various groups within the conference or on the Website or ListServ.
- The Current will be published monthly with 12 issues a year; the press run will be 12,000 conference-paid subscriptions with an initial goal of an additional 3,000 in individually or church-paid subscriptions. Each issue will be a 20-page tabloid. On rare occasions, it will be a 24-page edition.*
- The Communications staff, approved volunteers and the Commission on Communications will maintain the Website and ListServ. All items placed electronically will be edited using the policy guidelines.
In The Current, there will be approximately 4-5 pages of conference news, 1-2 pages people news (including editorials, opinion articles and letters), 2 pages of world and national United Methodist news, and 4 pages of district, cluster and local church news. The actual number of pages in each category will vary, and will be at the discretion of the editor.
The paper will be produced in the Communication Team office by the communications staff. It will be printed and mailed to individual subscribers from the P & Printing Company, Peoria, IL.
The conference editor shall have editorial responsibility for the content of the conference paper, Website, ListServ and other official publications guided by the accepted policy guidelines and regular commission review of policy.
- News will be published while it is still news with the understanding that there is limited space and staff time. These factors may necessitate a delay in reporting.
- Periodic evaluation of the style and content of the publications will be conducted by the Commission on Communications.
- Promotion of conference programs and activities should be in proportion to their relevance to the life of the local church. Space will be provided for district news. Feature stories and news are preferred from conference institutions rather than straight promotion, except in advance of Golden Cross Sunday. The actual amount of promotion will vary and be at the discretion of the editor. Postal restrictions limit the amount of space for advertising.
- Each issue of The Current will include four pages of district news if material is submitted by editorial deadlines; therefore, each district will receive a full page of district news every six weeks at no cost to the district. In addition, districts may contract at their cost with the editor for "wraparound inserts" (their news on front and back- pages) if two districts will join together; these pages will go only to the two districts involved. Districts upon advance arrangement may purchase additional conference-wide pages with the editor.
- Articles that are of the greatest interest to the highest number of people will receive high priority. The editor and staff will make these decisions.
- Local churches shall receive conference-paid subscriptions to The Current in proportion to their average Sunday worship attendance, with the minimum of three per church. Others to receive conference-paid subscriptions are all ordained clergy in good standing in the conference, diaconal ministers and conference, pastors serving churches, deacons, widows and widowers of clergy, probationers attending school or serving churches in other conferences, a number of persons in connectional positions [i.e., NCJ conference council directors and editors, etc., upon request of the CMT director or bishop, communications commission, or at the discretion of the editor, selected public press editors/reporters actively involved in religious news writing/editing, and chairpersons or designated representatives of conference organizations, district ministry teams, and clusters; and all members of Conference Council on Finance and Administration (CCFA), the Conference Ministry Team (CMT) and Lay Members to Annual Conference. All subscriptions will be mailed to individual addresses.
- Paid subscriptions to The Current may be made through the local church or mailed individually to the editor at the current rate.
- The publications shall reflect the diversity of opinions that exists within the conference, giving impartial consideration to all submitted materials in relation to policy guidelines.
- Special accomplishments of individuals may be included periodically. Death notices of clergy and clergy spouses will be published as received from the Board of Pensions. Pastoral appointments will be published as released by the secretary of the cabinet. Prayer requests and other announcements about individuals will be placed on the ListServ using the policy guidelines of the Commission on Communications. Publicity of events will not be published the same weekend the event occurs.
- Volunteer reporters, selected by the editor, may represent each of the districts or be reporters-at-large. These reporters as well as conference program staff, district superintendents, board and agency leaders will be key persons in furnishing information of interest and benefit to readers in line with the purpose and guidelines. Additionally, any pastor or layperson in the conference is encouraged and invited to submit for consideration news or concerns that he or she feels should be placed before readers. Acceptance of articles, views, or letters to the editor will be controlled by space available in terms of the established priorities.
- Inserts (extra pages supplementary or adjunct) may be distributed only by the CMT; CCFA; districts; boards, commissions, committees or task forces elected or appointed by the annual conference or bishop; by the recognized conference related organizations; by the recognized health and welfare agencies, camps and retreat centers, colleges and universities, campus ministries, ethnic ministries, and foundations related to the annual conference; and by the general boards and agencies of The United Methodist Church. Each insert shall be the responsibility of the authorizing organization or initiating group and the name of the sponsoring organization shall be on the insert. The content of the insert will be compatible with the teachings and Social Principles of the United Methodist Church. It will be the responsibility of the sponsoring organization with the editor of the conference paper having editorial responsibility except for general church agency inserts. Because of postal regulations and limitations of space, private individuals and non-certified or unrecognized groups will not be sold space for promoting their views on church issues. All scheduling of inserts will be the responsibility of the editor; organizations should contact the editor at least two or three months in advance of publication.
- Occasionally, because of rising postal rates and other costs, it may be necessary to supplement the budget by making an appeal to conference-paid subscribers to donate toward the increased costs since they receive the paper free of charge. Such fundraising appeals shall be approved in advance by appropriate groups, such as the Commission on Communications and the CCFA.
- Total advertising space shall be limited to available space as determined by the editor. Postal regulations restrict the amount of space for advertising.
- Advertisements shall be restricted to agencies, organizations and businesses that promote religious and church-related products, legally incorporated for-profit or non-profit, or other verification of church-related status.
- The Commission on Communications reserves the right to determine the acceptability of any advertisement and that decision shall be final.
- Deadline for placement for advertisements shall be two weeks prior to publication.
- No ad may be placed if determined by the Commission on Communications to be incompatible with the Discipline of The United Methodist Church, if it attacks an individual or if it violates privacy, affects appointability, or infringes on confidentiality.
- Any advertisement determined to be fraudulent shall be cancelled and payment shall be forfeited.
- Payment: Payable to the Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference, attn: Newspaper editor.
- Display ads shall be charged at a rate of $24 per column inch per issue. They shall be paid for in advance. They must be submitted camera-ready unless arranged for in advance; an additional charge will apply for ads that are not camera ready. Charges for typesetting will be based on the specific requirements of each ad and must be negotiated at the time of ad placement.
- Classified ads shall be charged at a rate of 25 cents per word with a minimum charge of $10. Payment shall be submitted with classified ads; -they will be held until published in an issue of the paper, or until returned either at the request of the sponsor or the inability of the paper editor to enclose the ad in an appropriate issue.
- All ad rates (display and classified) will be set annually in relation to costs of production per page or column inch.
- Submit your ads via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to Michele Willson, PO Box 19207, Springfield IL 62794-9207.
- The editor of The Current is encouraged to develop a team of reporters/stringers across the conference of laypersons and clergy to submit material for publication in the conference newspaper. Persons who have not been "volunteer reporters" for the paper and wish to be considered as official reporters may submit a request for consideration to the editor. Samples of their written work should be submitted with the request.
- The Current will pay team reporters for their articles if the article has been arranged in advance with the editor as an assignment, or the editor has initiated the assignment and has accepted the article for publication. The fee paid will be commensurate with the number of hours necessary to complete the assignment.
- The Current will provide film or reimburse an assigned reporter or photographer for actual expenses incurred. Mileage may also be paid if the assigned reporter/ photographer would not otherwise attend the event. The Current, at the discretion of the editor, may pay a small fee to a photographer for publication of a photo, when appropriate. Negotiations for photographs and articles will comply with The Current editorial policy.
Letters to the editor, columns and opinion pieces
- Due to limited space and the number of responses, unsolicited letters to the editor, views and opinion pieces will be limited to 200 words or less. Any piece that is longer may be returned to the writer. They may shorten the piece and resubmit it to The Current for reconsideration.
- Letters to the editor, views and opinion pieces that attack individuals or that are anonymous will not be considered. Pieces that violate privacy, affect appointability or infringe on confidentiality will not be published. In rare cases names may be withheld upon request and at the discretion of the editor. To protect the privacy of writers, personal information will not be shared with the public. Any piece that is deemed by the Communications Staff and the Conference Commission on Communications to not conform to these guidelines may be returned to the writer. They may edit the piece and resubmit it to The Current for reconsideration.
- Any letter to the editor, views or opinion piece that repeats the same content or voices the same view as an earlier writer or piece may be rejected for publication and returned to the writer. A piece may also be shortened by the Communications Staff and the Conference Commission on Communications to remove repetitious material.
- All materials submitted for publication in The Current will be published only as space allows and at the discretion of the Communications Staff and the Conference Commission on Communications. All materials are subject to editing with the decision of the Communications Staff and Conference Commission on Communications being final.
- Submit letters to the editor to The Current, P.O. Box 19207, Springfield, IL 62794-9207, 217-529-2040 or email email@example.com All letters must include the writer's name (signature), address (e-mail), phone number and church.