That quiet, historic London rite

AnglicanBomb1 01 02We have some GetReligion readers out there who are beginning to think like reporters, when it comes to watching the Anglican wars. What about the timing of all of those stories about the recent high-church union rite for Father Peter Cowell and Father David Lord held on May 31? Why did it take so, so long for this hot story to break after the rite? A reader writes:

Since there were 300 people at the event, it was hardly a secret. And since the event was May 31st, the news was actually late. Why didn't the "news emerge" earlier? Why did it "emerge" now?

It would make sense if this were part of a PR campaign that also includes the wedding of Gene Robinson and was timed to create increasing outrage in the build up to GAFCON. ...

-- Perpetua

So what is the point of all of this? To push the Global South bishops into rushed and rash action?

You can read all kinds of Anglican political points, as usual, over at the Articles of Faith weblog written by Ruth Gledhill at The Times.

However we must try very hard to keep our focus. For your GetReligionistas that means looking again at the media issues, as opposed to the local, regional, national and global Anglican issues. To get inside the issue of the timing of this media coverage, take a look at this "A discreet wedding" essay in the New Statesman by Brian Cathcart. He was struck, in particular, by the fact that the rite -- the status of the word "wedding" is in dispute for conflicting strategic reasons on left and right -- was followed by a bubbly reception in the "Great Hall of St. Bartholomew's Hospital."

Cathcart looks at this in the context of the hyper-fueled, kill-your-grandmother-for-a-headline context of the tabloid British press, where Anglican affairs are still hot political stuff:

Let us get this straight. It is possible to conduct "the Church of England's first homosexual wedding" -- an event so important it is apparently set to cause "an irreversible schism" in the worldwide Anglican community -- in London on a Saturday in May, and the national press does not notice for a fortnight.

Footballers and Wags, take note. The ingredients of a discreet wedding, it seems, are these: hold it in one of the country's best-known churches (featured in both Four Weddings and a Funeral and Shakespeare in Love), with rose-petal confetti, a robed choir, morning suits, bridesmaids and a VIP congregation, and then, after a reception in the historic public building next door, process to dinner at the Ivy in an open-topped carriage drawn by horses.

It is probably irrelevant these days that the church of St Bartholomew the Great is a stone's throw from Fleet Street, but the Ivy! The paparazzi practically live on the pavement there, and many of the top-end, expense-account columnists and editors, minor celebrities that they are, love to be seen eating there.

Did this historic couple really alight from their carriage and breeze in, unsnapped? Did they celebrate with friends and family in the restaurant, on a Saturday evening, without a single journalist realising it was a story?

Bingo. That is the media question that is worth asking. Forget media bias, for a minute. Think merely of self interest. Where were the reporters and the photographers? Literally no one heard about this historic rite for two weeks? Around the corner from Fleet Street?

I, for one, am amazed. It's silly to even talk about conspiracy, since that would have to involve too many people in too many newsrooms. Are there any journalists out there who can take a stab at a logical explanation? I have none. GetReligion contest! Who can create some new Anglican warfare graphics? I'll try to think of a prize, other than the glory of it all.

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