Stories that ran in the [St. Louis Post-Dispatch] newspaper May 1 and April 18 about Joyce Meyer Ministries contained errors. After receiving a complaint from the ministry about factual issues in these stories, we examined a transcript from a press conference held by the ministry, records cited in the stories and the reporter’s notes. We discovered references that need to be corrected or clarified. These two articles did not meet our standards for fairness and accuracy.
Minutes of ministry board meetings show that for 2002 and 2003, the board approved compensation packages of up to $900,000 for Joyce Meyer and up to $450,000 for her husband. Any personal use of the ministry’s corporate plane or automobiles was to be deducted from those totals. A ministry spokesman did not say that the Meyers received free use of the plane and vehicles, as was stated in the May 1 story. The minutes and public financial statements do not disclose the salaries actually received or the extent to which they personally used the corporate plane and vehicles. The story erroneously stated that the ministry paid all bills related to the ministry parsonage. Additionally, the spokesman for the ministry never used the word “hefty” to describe Joyce Meyer’s salary. That was a term used by the reporter. The spokesman did not say that a reduction in Meyer’s salary in 2004 to $250,000 was due to previous Post-Dispatch reporting.
The spokesman for the ministry did not decline to disclose the amount of royalties received by Joyce Meyer personally for her books and tapes as reported in the May 1 story. He said the information was unavailable to him and is a matter between the publisher and Joyce Meyer. The amount of royalties Meyer receives is not disclosed in the ministry’s financial statements since, according to the ministry, no royalties are paid on resources distributed by the ministry.
According to the ministry, ministry employees do not work on books and tapes for which Meyer personally receives royalties. The ministry disputes claims by critics to the contrary.
An April 18 news article reported that all four of Meyer’s children sit on the ministry’s board. According to the ministry, only two of Meyer’s children currently serve on the ministry’s board. The four family members currently on the board do not constitute a majority of the board as reported on April 18.
According to an attorney for the ministry, the ministry is in full compliance with all IRS rules and regulations, and the ministry has never been contacted by the IRS regarding its status as a tax-exempt organization. The April 18 news article reported on a critic’s speculation regarding an IRS investigation, but it did not report the ministry’s denial.
We stand by reporting done in a four-part series on the ministry published in November 2003; however, one detail needs to be corrected. Although a building permit was sought for a $10,000 bathroom for the poolhouse, the ministry says the bathroom was never built. One other detail, about whether guards at the ministry wore guns, is in dispute.
The Post-Dispatch is taking corrective action to address the professional failures that led to these errors.
We know that mistakes erode our credibility and compromise our journalism. Our goal is to make our news coverage accurate, fair and trustworthy. We apologize to you, our readers, for the journalistic transgressions in the May 1 and April 18 articles.
Ellen Soeteber, Editor
Arnie Robbins, Managing Editor