c. 1997 Religion News Service
UNDATED _ A report by an Evangelical Press Association (EPA) ethics committee involving controversial stories by World magazine has been invalidated because the ad hoc panel contained no association members.
The EPA _ which acknowledged it made a”major error”by violating its bylaws requiring members to serve on its committees _ said in a statement that it will continue to work toward a”mutually satisfactory resolution”between World and the magazine’s critics.
The three-member committee concluded July 1 that World _ an independent, politically conservative journal _ had fallen”seriously short”of abiding by the EPA’s code of ethics in its reporting of a controversy concerning a Bible translation. The committee said the World articles were distorted and sensationalized.
World had reported in March and April issues of the magazine that plans for what it called a”unisex-language”edition of the popular New International Version (NIV) translation of the Bible were being fueled by a feminist agenda.
The resulting protests from conservative evangelicals forced the International Bible Society to announce May 27 it was canceling plans for a proposed NIV that would substitute gender-neutral words, such as people, for gender-specific words, such as mankind.
In a statement released Monday (July 28), the EPA said its bylaws require its committees be composed of EPA members.”While we looked for three people with a good grasp of journalism ethics and a reputation for integrity, we failed to remember the membership requirement,”the statement reads.”Since the three ad hoc committee members are not currently members of the EPA, the committee lacked the mandated qualifications to legitimately perform its task.” Ron Wilson, EPA’s executive director, said the committee’s work is”not for naught, but it’s not the official response of EPA.” The six-member board of EPA, which has about 280 member publications, met in a special session in Chicago last Tuesday (July 22) to discuss the ad hoc committee’s report.
In addition to acknowledging the error concerning the committee’s makeup, EPA’s statement also said it made a”second major error”by releasing the report before it was formally reviewed by the board of directors.”We deeply regret that our improper handling of this situation has complicated the dispute, placed the parties and the members of the ad hoc committee in awkward positions and delayed a constructive resolution of the parties’ differences,”the statement said.”We will make every effort to remedy our errors and properly address these issues as quickly as possible.” Wilson could not predict how long it will take for the issues to be resolved, but he said all involved parties will be included in future discussions. Those parties include the Bible society and Zondervan Publishing House, the publisher of the NIV Bible, whose complaints about World triggered the ethics investigation.
World magazine issued a statement in response to EPA’s announcement.”World … had asked EPA’s board both to distance itself from that recommendation of the ad hoc committee, and to repudiate it. We are grateful that in its July 28 statement such distance has been established.” Wilson said the recent events prompted him to write a column titled”How to Handle Our Differences!”in the latest edition of his organization’s newsletter.”The EPA code of ethics to which each of us subscribes is an excellent guide for publishing and for the fair treatment of others,”he wrote.”However … to be true to our journalistic calling, and at the same time live in a way that all men will know that we are his disciples, we need grace. We need to receive it, and in the same manner in which the Lord has bathed us in it, we need to extend it.”
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