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A Sabbath for the news cycle

CEO NOTES | We want both our staff and our readers to enjoy an appropriate break


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Is there any such thing as a news Sabbath, and if so, should a news organization advocate in favor of observing such a thing?

I realize the Biblical concept of Sabbath has been co-opted by all sorts of cultural movements. There are good intentions, and perhaps even hints of Scriptural truth, behind many of them. But in a society in which taking a break from life with a spa day or an afternoon of shopping counts as Sabbath, I do want to be careful not to water down something as rich and powerful as the real Sabbath.

I’ve discussed here WORLD’s approach to the Sabbath day, which flows mostly from the organization’s Presbyterian heritage. We are careful with our staff and, even though we realize newsworthy things happen seven days a week, we try to avoid habitually treating all days the same.

But our commitment to a Sabbath day goes beyond what we expect from our staff. We like to give our readers, listeners, and viewers an opportunity to cease and rest from consumption of news. That’s why we don’t post new content on our platforms—no newsletters, no ­website updates, no podcast feeds—on Sunday, unless there is a truly significant news event. (We do publish some Sift reports on Sunday evenings so they are ready for the early Monday morning Sift newsletter.)

It doesn’t help our web traffic numbers to discourage Sunday visitors, although to be fair, web traffic is not a big driver of our business. I suppose some will find other sources of news on Sundays, and that’s a risk we take by not producing news content for Sunday consumption. But our consciences are clear when we avoid unnecessarily working, and posting content, on Sundays, to the extent that’s possible in the news business.

I understand that not all WORLD readers practice Sunday-as-Sabbath. I also understand that sometimes things get lumped into Sabbath observances that don’t belong there. I’m not trying to make the case that reading news on the Sabbath violates the command to remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

I have seen in my own life, however, a tendency to try to maintain an illusion of control over my environment by staying on top of a news cycle that is 24/7. Our illusion of control is one thing our Sabbath observance seeks to dismantle. Perhaps we should consider whether the news may be one of those things that is properly set aside on the Sabbath—a day ordained to worship and commune with the One who’s really in charge.


Kevin Martin

Kevin Martin is the CEO of WORLD News Group.

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