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

Social Media officer for Christians in Media [closed]

This vacancy is now closed - thank you for your applications!

Social Media Officer for Christians in Media

Your overall purpose is to lead the Charity’s social media strategy, raising the profile of the Charity and who we have been assigned to reach, with particular focus on millennials. This typically involves managing an organisation's online presence by developing a strategy, producing good content, analysing usage data, facilitating customer service and managing projects and campaigns.

The Social Media Officer will work the equivalent of one day a week at an agreed daily rate of £250 per day.

The role will report to the Christians in Media Producer. Terms and conditions to be agreed.

Main Tasks and Responsibilities

  • develop a social media strategy and set goals to increase Charity awareness and increase engagement

  • manage all social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram

  • plan content and delivery and use tools like Hootsuite to manage multiple social media channels

  • develop and manage competitions and campaigns that promote the organisation and brand

  • create engaging multimedia content and/or outsource this effectively

  • form key relationships with millennial influencers across the social media platforms

  • monitor and report on performance on social media platforms using tools such as Google Analytics

Closing date 31st March 2019. Phone interviews by mid April, with the role to begin ideally in May 2019.

If you are interested in the role, please send a cover email and CV to holly@themedianet.org.

CIM Meets: BBC's Sally Bundock

This week we’re chatting with friend of Christians in Media, financial journalist and BBC World News presenter Sally Bundock, about her career, what challenges and fulfils her in her work, how she manages work-life balance and what she would say to a young person considering a life in media.

Last month at the World Economic Forum in Davos, about to go live on air on BBC World News

Last month at the World Economic Forum in Davos, about to go live on air on BBC World News

Sally, how did you first get into TV broadcasting?

I did my post-grad diploma in broadcast journalism, then spent a few years freelancing in London as a radio journalist. I got my first proper job with Bloomberg TV as a business news presenter, which was when things really started to take off. Once I was there, I ended up being headhunted by the BBC which is where you can find me now!

Which aspects of the job would you say are the most challenging?

Absolutely top of the list is the endless juggle - managing a hectic work schedule with being a widow and parents to three young children. Shift work plus kids means permanent lack of sleep!

There’s also a frustration, less so a challenge, to have to remain impartial at all times on every subject, especially on matters where you feel passionate about a particular view.

But some of the major challenges come from just the nature of working in a 24 hour news cycle; being live on air and not having the correct information, having to ad-lib around stories when you don’t have any information, keeping a programme on air when it all seems to be going a bit wrong technically! All of which happen and it’s just the nature of the job, it keeps you on your toes but it is a challenge.

Another challenge is about the online abuse and criticism you get sometimes get from viewers. It’s hard not to take that to heart, especially when you know you have worked incredibly hard to do your job well (and on very little sleep!).

Highlight of the job when you “have” to interview people like Matt Damon

Highlight of the job when you “have” to interview people like Matt Damon

On the flip side, what do you find the most fulfilling part of the job?

There’s a real high when you finish a programme and it’s gone really well. When we’ve had breaking news and we do a great job at covering the story and you know you’ve nailed it! It’s an indescribably satisfying feeling when you hear that government policy has changed, people’s lives have been changed because of what you have been reporting or because of your story telling.

You are on TV when most people are fast asleep or just waking, how do you cope with these early morning hours?

I wish there was a more interesting answer to this but in all honesty, I set my alarm and I get up! No big secret. I’m pretty disciplined about sleep, and 99% of the time I stick to the routine. If I don’t, my body will tell me as I’ll get migraines!

Me and my three boys celebrating my youngest’s 8th birthday

Me and my three boys celebrating my youngest’s 8th birthday

How do you manage family and work?

Again this is about a good routine, but also about being flexible as often as I can. I know when to ask for help if I need it, and I make sure my sons pull their own weight when it comes to school and the house.

I don’t worry, I don’t fear and I don’t go on a guilt trip when things go wrong (which they will inevitably do). God is more than enough and I trust Him with whatever is thrown at us. With Him, we’ll be okay. So it’s about taking every day as it comes!

What Does The Media Look Like in 2019?

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When historians write about the current decade what will they say? As it nears its end, it’s a question worth thinking about. Was it the time when finally the seriousness of climate change was recognised? The era when we began to wrestle with the epic proportions of abuse in many of our great institutions? The decade of the explosion of social media and AI? The time in which China assumed its role of global dominance? The era of decline, division and disaster in the former powerhouse of the global economy – the industrialised North.

These questions and more are incredibly difficult to answer without the benefit of hindsight.

Without the gift of prophecy, but with a panel of expert practitioners and theorists, last month Christians in Media attempted to answer a more manageable version of this question… “What will the media look like in 2019?”

Now an annual event, the futurecasting gathering attracted a good crowd in a central London venue to listen to the panel musing on trends in tech, the theology of human relationships in the digital era and how the ancient Good News might have something to say to a wider society which is fearful, overwrought and seeking direction.

The panel was chaired by James Poulter, an expert in social media, voice tech and AI. Fresh from an Alexa conference in Tennessee, James steered the panel through an hour’s worth of conversation which would have lasted much longer. Despite the fissiparous times in which we live, the room buzzed with excitement at the potential for Christian values of grace, truth and hope to infuse the media and, as a result, the rest of society in 2019 and beyond.

Setting the scene, Dr Sara Schumacher, an expert in theology and the arts at St Mellitus College, told the audience that she predicts younger generations will teach older generations how to use media well. Older generations will teach younger generations what it means to be human.

She touched on the idea that people are trying to find their own order in a disorderly world. Most notably, after Netflix aired Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, donations to charity shops doubled - proving that it touched a cord with audiences worldwide.

Picking up on the theme of disorder, Warren Nettleford – an experienced ITN journalist – said “The only known unknown is that we’ll have confusion but we’re not sure what that confusion will lead to.”

“As a journalist we have to be more responsible than ever before,” he continues. “People are looking for other forums and channels to get answers to what they want. There is a loss of trust in established media channels.”

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The multi award-winning Church of England digital team has overseen a spate of innovations in the past couple of years. Amaris Cole is a core part of the team and struck a positive note when telling the room how much progress was being made in the digital space by an institution with a reputation for more bucolic pursuits. Amaris said: “We’re focusing on faith in the home- families are using Alexa devices, we want to help parents to grow faith with their children.”

The Rev Dr Christopher Landau, a former BBC journalist, is part of a dynamic church in Oxford. From his vantage point working with students who have grown up as ‘digital natives’ his reflections were encouraging, stating that lo-fi social media and digital minimalism are among trends to look out for in 2019.

Brexit was never far from the minds of those present, with the uncertainty over what will happen regularly acknowledged as a cause of real anxiety. Yet the overwhelming tone of the panel wasn’t bleak – and maybe that’s what sets apart an event taking place within a Christian framework? Hope was never far from the lips of those asking questions or giving answers. Whether it’s the astonishing ways in which smart speakers now allow the transmission of prayers from an app to the family meal table or the profound way in which Christian theology gives a horizon beyond the backbiting and bile of politics in 2019.

Christians in Media exists for those who work in many fields of both secular and faith media. It has members in advertising, PR, broadcast, social, print, and many forms of digital. One of the things which unites these fields is the way they influence public opinion and mood. In a time of acute discomfort in the political process, the economy and the wider social environment, it’s vital Christians act as salt in the midst of their workplaces. Christians in media environments can often feel isolated which churches can be sceptical of those who work in secular media environments.

This event showed why it’s important Christians remain committed to truth and justice and creating excellent content for wide dissemination. It also showed that we may look back on 2019 as a year of positives as well as negatives.



What Does the Future Hold for Journalists in the Digital Age?

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In an era of social media and fake news, journalists who have survived the print plunge have new foes to face.

“We are, for the first time in modern history, facing the prospect of how societies would exist without reliable news,” Alan Rusbridger, for 20 years the editor-in-chief of the Guardian, recently warned.

Technology has radically altered the news landscape, he argues, and once-powerful newspapers have lost their clout or been purchased by owners with particular agendas. 

Algorithms select which stories we see. The internet allows consequential revelations, closely guarded secrets, and dangerous misinformation to spread at the speed of a click.

These sinister developments have dire implications for the future of democracy, Rusbridger argues in his book The Remaking of Journalism.

What is true here is also true in the US, the New Yorker’s Jill Lepore writes. 

She says that between January, 2017 and April, 2018 a third of America’s largest newspapers, including the Denver Post and the San Jose Mercury News, reported layoffs. 

In a newer trend, so did about a quarter of digital-native news sites. 

“BuzzFeed News laid off a hundred people in 2017; speculation is that BuzzFeed is trying to dump it. The Huffington Post paid most of its writers nothing for years, upping that recently to just above nothing,” she writes.

“And yet, despite taking in tens of millions of dollars in advertising revenue in 2018, it failed to turn a profit.”

The New Yorker quotes former New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson as saying that “there are not that many places left that do quality news well or even aim to do it at all”.

The local story, the magazine says, is worse and its exceptionally high mortality rate is now so well known that it has almost become old news.

Even so, the rate of decline of local papers in the US is still terrifying. Between 1970 and 2016, the year the American Society of News Editors quit counting, five hundred or so dailies went out of business; the rest cut news coverage, or shrank the paper’s size, or stopped producing a print edition, or did all of that, and it still wasn’t enough.

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“The numbers mask an uglier story. In the past half century, and especially in the past two decades, journalism itself—the way news is covered, reported, written, and edited—has changed, including in ways that have made possible the rise of fake news, and not only because of mergers and acquisitions, and corporate ownership, and job losses, and Google Search and Facebook and BuzzFeed,” Lepore says in the New Yorker article.

“There’s no shortage of amazing journalists at work, clear-eyed and courageous, broad-minded and brilliant, and no end of fascinating innovation in matters of form, especially in visual storytelling. 

“But journalism, as a field, is as addled as an addict, gaunt, wasted, and twitchy, its pockets as empty as its nights are sleepless. It’s faster than it used to be, so fast. It’s also edgier, and needier, and angrier.” 

But don’t sink too much into a pit of despair, The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade argues, because the trade is not completely dead yet.

“The optimists fall into two categories,” he writes. “The Micawbers who believe it will come right in the end, as if by magic; and the Googlers who have adopted the digital revolution’s mantra, innovate or die.”

Greenslade argues that a new breed of entrepreneur has emerged who believe that it’s possible to not only to persuade readers to pay for access to newspaper and magazine content but also persuade advertisers to pay a sensible amount for their ads by providing them with proof that the ads have been read and understood.

One of the entrepreneurs quoted in Greenslade’s article is Rowly Bourne, co-founder of a startup called Rezonence.

Bourne argues that publishers are making as little as 50p per reader per year from digital. As a response to this, many of them have erected paywalls which restricts access to journalistic material. Moreover, readers who do pay for access are irritated by the number of ads that intrude on their reading experience.

“I believe there is a better way,” Bourne says. “Instead of a paywall, we call it a freewall. It’s a simple cost-per-engagement mechanism in which readers are presented with a single advertisement. In order to read the full article, they are required to answer a relatively simple question below the ad. This proves to the advertiser that the readers have paid attention to their brand.”

According to his company’s own estimates, freewall access to a site by, say, 10 million users would produce more than £10 per reader. By contrast, it is doubtful if paywalls produce 60p per reader.

Another entrepreneur, Dominic Young, founder of a startup called Agate, believes that circulation revenue could provide the answer to journalism’s woes.. He has developed a method aimed at encouraging readers to make payments into an online wallet. They pre-pay an amount into the wallet, which gives them access to a range of outlets, and the price of each article is deducted by the publisher. Each site can charge as much or as little as it thinks appropriate. When the wallet is empty, the reader can top it up.

“Meanwhile, as every online Guardian reader knows,” concludes Greenslade, “the paper has enjoyed success by asking readers for voluntary contributions. More than 1 million people worldwide have made a donation over the past three years, with 500,000 of them paying on a regular basis.

“No one can be certain which of these funding models will work in the long term and, incidentally, they are not mutually exclusive. But they should give journalists hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel we’ve been walking down for the last 20 years or so.”

So it could just be that rumours of the death of the industry are exaggerated…

Alastair Tancred, Christians in Media Editor

CIM Meets: ITN’s Warren Nettleford

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We were absolutely thrilled to have ITN reporter and presenter Warren Nettleford join us for our annual trends forecasting event last month, talking us through his views on the year ahead and what we can expect as fellow media folk.

We sat down with him to find out more about his background, how he copes with the stresses of the industry, advice for young journalists and more.

How did you begin your career in journalism?

I guess it all started whilst studying. I read history and politics at Lancaster University and whilst there I wrote for SCAN, the student paper. It was great. I was heavily involved in student politics as I became President of my College, and after that I was President of the University Students Union.  

 I enjoyed writing and standing up for people.  So after that I became a researcher working on a number of political and social documentaries. I learnt a lot and got to travel across Europe and the US too, but I always wanted to be a reporter.  I was fortunate to gain a place to study for my postgraduate diploma in journalism at City University in London and then I became a Channel 4 News trainee.  

What were the biggest obstacles to developing your career?

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It’s a very competitive environment and I guess looking back maybe I was a bit cocky!  In time I came to know the importance of taking good advice, speaking to the right people and working hard. I’m still learning though…all the time.

How did you become a Christian?

 I was fortunate enough to be brought up in a Christian home. For most of my life my parents went to two different church denominations – so two different services on a Sunday! With hindsight It was useful to see that it’s possible to have unity in belief but with diversity of expression.  My parents never forced me to go to church or baptised me as a child, and so in my 20s I made a personal commitment myself after investigating who Jesus was and finding out if what he said was true. Baptism followed after that.  I now attend an Anglican church in South London.

Do you find it a challenge to juggle your faith alongside the demands of a busy newsroom?

I can’t say that I find it difficult, but I’m sure like for many people the responsibility of knowing what your values mean influences how you interact with others. If it didn’t what would the point of being a Christian?  We could just carry on as before… 1 Corinthians 15: 32 is useful here, - “...If the dead are not raised let us eat and drink and for tomorrow we die...” -although I’d love to find out if Paul did literally fight with wild beasts in Ephesus as he mentions in the line before. I do my best not to work on Sundays too.

How did you come to hear about Christians in Media?

An old University friend mentioned Christians in Media to me and it lead to me coming along to the annual conference.

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What is the most exhilarating/exciting story/feature you have covered?

 I’ve worked on a few general election campaigns now. The way things are going they’ll probably be another one soon...  As a reporter I get to travel around the country and get a sense as to what’s happening and what people think. That all seems heightened with general election campaigns and I love the buzz of the shifting political sands and also the moments which can swing campaigns. I do like being up on election night and being there when historic events are unfolding.

Is your work very stressful? If so, what are your coping mechanisms?

I try to relax by exercising at the gym, reading, going to the cinema and playing football too. The holy answer of course is to say prayer. I do pray, but of course I, and I'm sure like many reading this, should pray a lot more.  

What is your preferred form of social media and why?

Professionally I use Twitter a lot to keep track of developing news stories and also to see the latest comments by decision makers, leaders and other journalists. Being able to see stories develop so quickly is a really valuable tool, especially if you’re out on the road reporting.

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Do you know what you’d like to do in the long term?

As well as news reporting and presenting I also run my own production company – Right Thing Films.  We’re currently developing documentary and film ideas that tell important and transformative stories we think people should know about.  It would be good to do work on some big projects whilst developing new young talent too.

Do you think news outlets give Christianity a fair hearing?

It depends what you mean. As a broadcaster who maintains impartiality I have a responsibility to do that whilst reporting and I think British Television news does this on the whole fairly well.  Perhaps now though because Christianity in Britain is losing it’s place as the default moral compass, in favour of a more secular world view, there’s a sense that Christianity in the UK is having to find its footing, or even, having to develop the tools required to compete whilst maintaining  authentic values in a more pluralistic society. I saw a Tim Keller lecture at Parliament last year where he argued that Christianity should always try and be salt to the world.  Because there are now so many more media outlets through social media which Christianity can speak through arguably there’s never been a better time for anyone to get a ‘fairer hearing’. Maybe Christianity should be more confident.  

What is your advice to young people wanting to follow you into a career in journalism?

Work hard, don’t ever think that you’re solely responsible for any success that comes your way, and pray for good fortune and guidance! If you fail along the way, you’ll learn from it. I have.