United Methodist News Service, the official newsgathering agency of The United Methodist Church, has announced the launch of its new stand-alone website, UMNews.org.
“UMNews.org allows for a better reader experience filled with engaging multimedia content and beautiful photographs that illustrate the news stories,” said news editor Vicki Brown. “We’ll be hosting UMNS Daily Digest articles and sharing big stories from local churches, annual conferences, and general agencies. With more space for content, we can live into our role as the source for news of the church, not just the news pieces that our team writes.”
United Methodist News Service produces about 400 pieces of original content yearly that are shared through weekly and daily news digests, through annual conference websites and e-newsletters and social media. About 2 million readers a year in 219 countries stay informed through UM News content.
The news service has been recognized consistently for excellence in communications, writing, and photography. The staff have received many awards from the United Methodist Association of Communicators, the Religion Communicators Council and the Associated Church Press.
Curated by a staff of professional journalists, the UM News site presents objective news pieces that focus on the church globally, striving to represent the many voices, views, and contexts of the denomination. About one-third of the news service’s stories came from Africa, the Philippines and Europe.
On UM News, readers can expect to see an even bigger increase in global coverage. “We’re strengthening our relationships with correspondents in the central conferences and increasing our capacity as a team for working in five languages: English, Spanish, French, Korean, and Portuguese,” noted Tim Tanton, chief news officer.
“With this new platform, visitors will be given immediate access to a large collection of news features, including special reports and commentaries,” Tanton said. “By moving the news service to its own website, we’re making it easier for people to access news articles, as well as better distinguish between the news of the church and other content that is produced within the church.”
Although a part of United Methodist Communications, United Methodist News Service is focused on providing fair and objective news coverage of what is happening in the church today. United Methodist Communications produces a wide variety of content ranging from inspirational features for spiritual growth to informational resources to assist churches in their ministries, as well as providing public relations, marketing, advertising to prospective members, connectional giving, and local church communications support.
Over the years, there has often been confusion within the church body as to the role of United Methodist News Service versus what United Methodist Communications offers as a whole.
The Book of Discipline specifically lays out the responsibility for a news agency within the church: “In keeping with the historic freedom of the press, it shall operate with editorial freedom as an independent news bureau serving all segments of church life and society, making available to both religious and public news media information concerning the church at large.”
The newly launched website serves as a catalyst for clarity between these agency offerings. News will be found on UMNews.org, while a broader range of content will appear on the denomination’s website, UMC.org. Later this year, a new website is planned for church leaders that will aggregate ministry resources from many sources across the church.