About Presbyterian News Service

The Presbyterian News Service (PNS) is the official news agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Its job is to gather and disseminate news and information about the denomination and its work to church members, church officials, religious and secular media and the public.

Editorial Guidelines for the Presbyterian News Service

Theological Statement

Through the Bible, the cornerstone of our faith, we know the stories of God’s efforts to communicate with creation and of creation’s response. God communicates through rainbows and burning bush, through earthquakes and fire, and through the still small voice. Jesus, as the Word Incarnate, is God’s fullest communication with creation. The work of God’s Spirit is communicated in the revelation of God’s presence with humanity in all times and places.

Today, as we seek to hear and respond to God’s Word, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) declares the reality of the grace of God to its members through word, sacrament and deed, and to the whole world through its testimony. We pray that God will speak through us as we tell new stories of the faith, life and mission found in Christ’s church. We pray that the communications fo our church will be a constant reflection of God’s love.

Role of Presbyterian News Service (PNS)

The role of the Presbyterian News Service (PNS) is to gather and honestly and thoroughly report to its audiences on newsworthy matters concerning or affecting the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). PNS shall relate to interested audiences both within and outside the PC(USA). PNS shall operate as a news service adhering to the highest standards of professional reporting and, notwithstanding its place in any organization chart, is expected to maintain an identity separate from any denominational public relations or other office which serves as spokesperson for the denomination or any of its entities.

During the General Assembly, Presbyterian News Service operates under guidelines as provided in the Manual of the General Assembly.

Presbyterian News Service Organization

The administrative organization of the Presbyterian News Service shall be determined by the Presbyterian Mission Agency executive director.

Editorial Freedom

The Presbyterian News Service shall operate with editorial freedom and editorial responsibility. Freedom is foundational, though fragile. Editorial freedom is particularly imperative in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), where honesty and openness are highly valued. The freedom granted to the Presbyterian News Service organization is important if the church’s members are to have confidence in the news they receive. However, with all freedom comes responsibility and accountability.

Editorial Responsibility

To fulfill its role with editorial freedom while retaining responsibility and accountability, the Presbyterian News Service shall:

  1. Report the facts accurately, clearly, fairly, impartially and promptly with economy, efficiency and as completely as human endeavor allows.
  2. Carry out its work with faithfulness to Christ and his mission in the world as it is expressed in and through the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
  3. Display responsibility, competence and sound judgment.
  4. Maintain concern for the personal dignity of all sources and contacts.
  5. Present the facts without interference, manipulation, encumbrance or retribution while working within these guidelines and remaining accountable.
  6. Adhere to the journalistic standards as expressed in the Statement of Ethics and Professional Practices of the Associated Church Press and within the context of these guidelines, the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists.
  7. Additionally, the Presbyterian News Service will follow the germane values and principles as expressed by The Associated Press, specifically:
    1. “That means we abhor inaccuracies, carelessness, bias or distortions. It means we will not knowingly introduce false information into material intended for publication or broadcast; nor will we alter photo or image content. Quotations must be accurate, and precise.”
    2. “It means we don’t plagiarize.”
    3. “It means we avoid behavior or activities that create a conflict of interest and compromise our ability to report the news fairly and accurately, uninfluenced by any person or action.”
    4. “It means we must be fair. Whenever we portray someone in a negative light, we must make a real effort to obtain a response from that person. When mistakes are made, they must be corrected―fully and ungrudgingly.”
    5. “And ultimately, it means it is the responsibility of every one of us to ensure that these standards are upheld. Any time a question is raised about any aspect of our work, it should be taken seriously.”
Accountability

The Presbyterian News Service is accountable to the members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

For administrative purposes, the Presbyterian News Service is under the supervision of the Presbyterian Mission Agency through the publisher, who is accountable to the Presbyterian Mission Agency executive director and the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board executive committee.

However, editorial control and decision-making is lodged with the editor of Presbyterian News Service, who shall be accountable to the PC(USA) through the Presbyterian Mission Agency on the basis of the principles and Editorial Responsibilities expressed above.

An Editorial Board shall be established consisting of  three current Presbyterian Mission Agency Board members selected by the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board chair and two Presbyterians with news expertise selected by the editor, to provide advice and counsel with respect to the oversight of Presbyterian News Service. The Editorial Board will report to the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board Executive Committee.

All parties affiliated with the Presbyterian News Service shall follow these guidelines and work to ensure that the open meeting policy of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is upheld.

Contact the Presbyterian News Service

Comments about PNS stories will be published as long as they are relevant to the story they accompany; they are respectful and do not include any personal attacks or name-calling; and they are free from profanity. 

Contact the Presbyterian News Service by phone Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. ET, or at any time by voice mail, fax, or email.

Jerry Van MarterThe Rev. Jerry L. Van Marter
Coordinator
(800) 728-7228 x5493
(502) 472-5106 (cell)
(502) 569-8073 (fax)
Email Jerry

Bethany FurkinBethany Daily
Reporter
(800) 728-7228 x5138
(502) 569-8073 (fax)
Email Bethany

Please send mail to News Service at this address:

Presbyterian News Service
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
100 Witherspoon Street
Louisville, KY 40202

Approved by General Assembly Mission Council (now Presbyterian Mission Agency Board), September 2009

  1. David Fischler: Presbyterian News Service is a firm advocate of editorial freedom and freedom of speech. Our guidelines for approving comments are simple and straightforward: Comments about PNS stories will be published as long as they are relevant to the story they accompany; they are respectful and do not include any personal attacks or name-calling; and they are free from profanity.

    by Jerry Van Marter

    March 3, 2014

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