An Important Update from Christians in Media

It is with great regret that we have had to cease many of the activities including postponing most of our planned activities for 2019 including the Breakfast Briefing on the 18th September and the inaugural Christians in Media Church Service, which was due be held on the 10th October at All Souls, Langham Place, London.

In spite of an encouraging response to our recent appeal for help, Trustees felt it would not be right to hold the event while the charity is seeking to stabilise its current financial position and rebuild for the future.

We will be looking to hold the first Christians in Media Church Service in 2020, together with events and activities that continue to support and inspire Christians who work in, and with, media.

Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this postponement may have caused, but we feel sure you would understand why we have made this decision.

Steve Cox & Trustees

Whats The Future of Journalism?

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Peter Crumpler Answers

Does journalism have to be reborn from the street-level upwards? American community radio journalist and media activist Lisa Loving believes the future lies with the ‘Street Journalist.’

In her new book, ‘Street Journalist – understand and report the news in your community,’ the Portland-based journalist aims to help readers understand that “the power of journalism is in your hands.”

She writes “While many people believe there is some sort of special degree or licence that makes a journalist ‘legitimate’, the truth is that anyone with the interest, brains and organisation can make a crucial difference with their voice.”

Loving, whose biography states she has trained “hundreds of ordinary people in the tools of independent journalism,” says that anyone with a smartphone has the basic equipment to report what is going on in their neighbourhood.

How do I respond to this? As someone who trained in journalism many years ago, and has worked with journalists over decades, I believe firmly that professionally-trained journalists have a vital role to play in holding power to account and accurately reporting the day’s news. So I approached this book with scepticism.

Yet I was impressed by Loving’s commitment to accuracy, to obtaining all sides of a story, to obtaining verified information and to developing respectful relationships across local communities.

Her fundamental ground rules include: “If you’re not fact-checking, it’s not journalism” (repeated twice); “never make shit up” (again, repeated twice); be aware of the difference between news reporting and opinion writing. Don’t confuse the two”; and “be an advocate for everyday people.”

Here is journalism with a purpose, rooted in the everyday life experiences of ordinary people armed with a smartphone. But more than this, it’s ordinary people equipped with both technology and a moral compass. In a section on ‘What is truth?’, Loving argues for naming the source for any piece of information given, advising “many times your audience cannot judge for themselves what is ‘true’ if they do not know what your source of information is.”

This ‘Street Journalist’ view of the world has elements in common with a style of journalism advocated by Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian newspaper from 1995 to 2015. In ‘Breaking News,’ his 2018 book on ‘the remaking of journalism and why it matters now,’ Rusbridger called on journalists to, in my words, ‘show their working out’ in the news stories that they produced.

The award-winning editor believes that journalists should include url links to the sources that they use in their stories. They should also be willing to adapt and change their articles as more information comes in, for example from readers. News stories should be the first draft, not the final verdict.

Rusbridger writes “It is a safe assumption that one of the reasons that social media is so spectacularly popular is that people can often find an authenticity there that they feel is lacking in so many areas of corporate, political, commercial, governmental and journalistic communication.”

He asks “Is it imaginable that more journalists would curate their articles after publication in the expectation that the pieces could thus quickly be improved once in the public domain.”

In other words, as readers contribute their own information – often based on better or greater knowledge of the story than the journalist – then the story would be updated and corrected.

Lisa Loving and Alan Rusbridger are setting out different, but related, perspectives on the future of journalism. Both are committed to seeing journalism thrive in a post-truth, post-trust world. Both see that, in a world of smartphone and internet, readers are no longer passive but want to contribute to the framing and discovery of the truth as it unfolds.

Yet in both cases, the financial model remains the challenge. How will quality journalism be funded when most advertising revenue has gone to the big technology companies. Can ‘street journalists’ be only volunteers, or work for not-for-profits?

For Christians, both Loving and Rusbridger set out a view of journalism where truth and holding the powerful to account are prioritised. Lisa Loving’s vision is focused on the local.

Maybe we should all be supporting our local media outlets, and helping local ‘street journalists’ to thrive in our communities, as part of our Christian witness?

By Peter Crumpler

Peter Crumpler, a former communications director for the Church of England, trained as a journalist and worked in corporate communications for local government and the energy industry in the UK and overseas. He is a CofE priest in St Albans, Herts.


Street Journalist: Understand and report the news in your community. Lisa Loving. Microcosm, 2019. https://microcosmpublishing.com/catalog/books/6379


Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why it Matters Now. Alan Rusbridger. Canongate, 2018.
https://canongate.co.uk/books/2417-breaking-news-the-remaking-of-journalism-and-why-it-matters-now/


A Look Back at Christians in Media’s Summer Meetup in Leeds and Bradford

A few weeks ago, on Monday the 15th of July, Christians in Media helped to run an event in Yorkshire with Bishop Nick Baines and his wife Linda.

The evening was a huge success, with many of the attendee’s enjoying refreshments and networking with people of a shared faith within the media industry.

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 Marianne Clough, regional ambassador for CIM, writes:

 “Fast following on the back of our first meeting held at CAP, there was the suggestion that October was too long to wait for the next. So, right up there in my most embarrassingly cheeky of asks, I requested to the Bishop of Leeds, Nick Baines, that we have a Summer gathering at his home and that he could be our speaker - and he graciously accepted.

I wondered if we'd attract a slightly different crowd by going to Leeds and how many of our Bradford gang we might lose. Well, a couple dropped out through sickness but we pretty much had a full house - which was fab. Praise God!

 It had been a hot working day and our guests seemed grateful to be able to grab a drink, a decent plate of food and disappear outside into the cool of the Bishop's lovely garden. The food was made by Nurture, the catering arm of St George's Crypt in Leeds which cares for the ever-growing number of homeless people in the city.

So, who did we have there? Various freelancers both in film, photography and press who lapped up some company! We had one lad training in journalism, and some having had a long, full career in the media. We had someone from the TV programme Say Yes to the Dress who has the constant pressure of finding two brides a week with back stories and no dress!

 As before, we had quite a few comm types from locally based national Christian charities. We had one gentleman, who had come all the way from Manchester for our gathering. There were lots of familiar faces from last time and a few extras in the mix.

My main ambition has been, with all of this, that we are real with each other. Media is always going to be a competitive industry where egos loom large. However, when we meet as Christians if we can't be honest about how things are, what's the point? Paula Stringer, our first speaker at the inaugural event had very much spelled this out.

 I was heartened to hear people have conversations like: "How are you?" and be answered "Actually, things are really difficult for me at the moment..."

I saw a lot of genuine interactions and people arranging to meet for coffee or giving an encouraging word and offers of prayer.

 After our meal, Nick, who is a gifted linguist, encouraged us to always work out what language our audience is speaking, which words would resonate and to always set our minds on how a message is received. He was enthusiastic about having us at his home and said we'd be very welcome again.

 The role of being Leeds Bradford Ambassador is a real joy because I can see that in this difficult sector there are few championing the media person in their own right, rather than what they do or what they achieve - and it gives me license to do this.

 I really would encourage others to take on this ambassador role, which doesn't take up much time and is all reward.”

 If you are interested in becoming an ambassador for Christians in Media, get in contact with us via our email address hello@themedianet.org

Churches and Christians Challenged to Protect Press Freedom

Earlier in the week, Christians in Media attended a lecture by Ted Olsen Lecture given at St Bride's Church, London. The event was incredibly powerful and informative. The following is a brief overview of some of the key points that may be of interest.

Religious groups and individual believers should act to help journalists facing death and imprisonment around the world. The plea was made by Courtney Radsch, Director of Advocacy at the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists, speaking at St Bride’s, Fleet Street, London, last night (March 8th).

Speaking just feet away from the chapel where journalists who have been killed, imprisoned or ‘disappeared’ are remembered, Courtney Radsch called on churches and other faith groups to protect journalists’ freedom.

She praised the Pope for making a speech calling for media freedom and told the audience at ‘the Journalists’ Church’ that supporting a free press ensured that breaches of religious freedom would also be highlighted and challenged.

Individual believers could champion quality journalism by being willing to pay for their news, by refusing to decry reporting with which they disagreed as ‘fake news’ and to value the role that journalists play in bringing new information to light.

Although Turkey, China and Egypt were the top three jailers of journalists, a free press was under pressure in many other countries around the world. In the US, President Trump had issued around 1300 tweets attacking or being critical of the press.

Conditions for journalists were worse now than for many years. Around 250 are currently in prison, and 54 have been killed in the last year. But there were signs that the media organisations were fighting back.

An international alliance of media groups now regularly focussed on the plight of the journalists most in danger, and worked together to support them.

The Christians in Media Day of Prayer for the Media is on Sunday November 3rd. More details and prayers for the media can be found at: https://www.christiansinmedia.co.uk/pray4media

Christians in Media: The Church Service

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We are delighted to announce that Christians in Media is holding its very first annual Church Service for Christians working in the media on the 10th October at All Souls Langham Place, London.

This addition to our current programme of activities is a wonderful opportunity to come together as a broad, diverse family, to pray together, to celebrate together and inspire the many Christians who work in media with stories of genuine faith and hope. 

Join us from 6pm on Thursday 10th October for welcome drinks and canapés, and we'll kick off our very first church service with worship, prayer, reflections, testimonies and an address from the Bishop of Kensington, Rt Rev Dr Graham Tomlin - plus many other guests.

Lots of details still to be announced in the coming months but we'd love you to save the date to join us for this very special evening.

 

SCHEDULE

6pm | Arrivals, wine and canapes

7pm | Church service opens with worship

8:15pm | Ministry time + tea, coffee and chats 

 

Christians in Media: The Sessions

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The CIM team is so excited to announce a brand new event this coming June in London - a new format for us, we're hosting a morning of interactive, intimate workshops on issues that we heard from you that you'd like to grapple with:

  • How to get better at storytelling

  • Media ethics and everyday problems we wrestle with in our industry

  • Maintaining work-life balance

Join us for a morning of workshops and facilitated discussions on June 27th at 10-11 Carlton House Terrace in Westminster (5 minutes walk from Charing Cross station), from 830am for arrivals, until 1pm

8:30am | Arrivals + registration, tea, coffee and pastries

9:30am | Session stream #1 - choice of two

The Four Elements of Compelling Storytelling with Sheridan Voysey

Few things engage an audience more powerfully than a story. Tell a tale and people will lean in, read and watch longer, become emotionally engaged, and be moved to action.

Story works across all media because story is the language of humanity. In this seminar we will explore the four elements of compelling storytelling. These elements work for a 30-second commercial, a 60-second radio link or a 6-minute interview, right up to feature articles, keynote talks, documentaries and books.

or

Media Ethics - Facilitated discussion with sally bundock, BBC

In this facilitated discussion, we cut right to the heart of why Christians in Media exists, and ask the question why is it hard to tackle the challenges we face as Christians working in the media industry? Which ethical dilemmas do we face on a daily basis and how should we approach them not only as people of faith but also people who want to be good at our jobs?

10:15am | Tea and coffee break

10:45am | Session stream #2 - choice of two

The Four Elements of Compelling Storytelling with Sheridan Voysey

or

Work-life Balance & Avoiding Burnout with Action Jackson

Is work-life balance possible? In a world and an industry of tremendous competition and self-doubt, how do we maintain our focus, our faith and achieve our life and career goals? In this workshop we'll look at the route to burnout, how to stay on fire, the power of a dream team, how to make a remarkable impact in your part of the industry, and the difference between grace and performance.

11:45am | Prayer, closing remarks and networking


Price of your ticket includes tea, coffee, water and pastries on arrival, plus refreshments during the break.

We look forward to seeing you there!

When Christians in Media Met Up in Bradford

Christians in Media Regional Ambassador and PR Manager for CAP, Marianne Clough, reflects on a meet up organised last week in Bradford.

“So, how did your Leeds Bradford thing go for your Christian media chums?” a work colleague asked a few days after our event.

“Well… it was like…” I struggled to encapsulate. “It was like putting all the ingredients together to make a cake and somehow getting… a whole buffet.”

About 25 of us had gathered in the basement of Christians Against Poverty’s HQ in Bradford. We were a mixed bag of people, some just starting out and others on the more experienced side. Some had crossed paths several times before but there were new people to be met for everyone.

We chatted over drinks and then sat together to hear from our speaker for the night Paula Stringer, the former Head of Production at BBC Sport, who recently became CAP’s new Executive Director.

She was incredibly open about her varying experiences of being a Christian and working in the media and explained that fellowship with other believers had proved vital. She prayed for us and then those connections began in earnest.

Fish and chips arrived a few minutes later and we all sat down to eat together. It felt like family, not at all pretentious, and the beginning of something.

The most common request to follow? Prayer.

We’re really excited about hosting more regional meet ups for Christians in the media industry, to open up conversations and create a community where you are. If you are interested in helping bring all this together in your own area, let’s chat! Email us at holly@themedianet.org