Adapted from Gavin Drake’s report for ACNS
One of the world’s oldest Anglican newspapers, the Church Times, hits a major milestone Friday when it publishes its 8,000th edition. The newspaper was founded in 1863 but is not the world’s oldest Anglican periodical. That honor falls to the Church of England Newspaper, which was founded 35 years earlier in 1828.
Both newspapers are independent. Hymns Ancient and Modern, a Christian charitable trust, has published the Church Times since 1989.
In an editorial, editor Paul Handley writes a strong defense of traditional journalism and argues against the “ill-informed celebrity click-bait” that many news organizations now publish.
“The waters that used to keep so many newspapers afloat, national, regional and local, have receded in recent decades,” he writes. “Some independent publications, such as the Church Times, have invested enough in new technology to remain shipshape, but many have gone under.”
He cites a recent article in The Guardian by Katherine Viner, who argues that “a strong journalistic culture is worth fighting for,” and adds: “Like her, we detect a turning of the tide in favour of intelligent journalism and against ill-informed celebrity click-bait dictated by a Facebook or Google algorithm — but there is still no sign of a robust business model to support this.
“The Church Times is fortunate to function under the radar of the social-media giants, and continues to enjoy the business model that has sustained so many newspapers in the past: a readership willing to pay a small sum to be informed, challenged and entertained, and a collection of businesses and charities who see the value in advertising their services (and parishes their vacancies) to those readers.”
Handley says his fellow editors “never fail to appreciate” the privilege of working for the paper. “When the Church does things right, as, with the grace of God, it often does, it is a joy to bring the news to readers. When it falls short, it is an honour to be the conduit through which so many ideas for improvement flow,” he writes.
“On these pages, numbering in their millions, tradition and novelty alike are tested, and, as a consequence, the Church can function as a national and international body, greater than the sum of its members.”
To mark its 8,000th edition, the Church Times is providing free access to its online archive until July 31.