Ecumenical News International, an award-winning agency reporting on religion and based at the World Council of Churches (WCC), has been temporarily closed and had its two top editors removed, one of them said on Monday. The decision, taken at a meeting of its executive committee last week, comes after the Geneva-based WCC cut the agency’s funding and its former head criticised its coverage.
The suspension and leadership changes led to the resignation of the ENInews president and its treasurer, both senior figures in Scandinavian Protestant churches, a report by the agency said. WCC officials said the agency was not being closed but would resume some time in 2011 with one part-time editor. (Photo: Geneva, April 29, 2008/Valentin Flauraud)
Earlier this year the WCC, which has been ENInews’s main funder and in whose headquarters the agency was based, said it was reducing its financial support for 2011 by over 50 percent.
The WCC is an umbrella body linking Protestant and Orthodox churches around the globe. An acting spokesman for the organisation told Reuters on Monday that the funding decision was “part of a broad redeployment of WCC resources” and had been a “key element in decisions related to the re-shaping of ENInews.”
The cash cut came in the wake of complaints by the WCC’s former Kenyan general secretary Samuel Kobia of “inaccuracy” and “sensationalism” in coverage of the body by ENInews — which had run reports from an authoritative German religious news service that he had falsely claimed an academic degree. WCC sources said at the time that the affair effectively blocked Kobia from seeking a second four-year term.