A Reflection on the First #MediaLit Course

“Have you ever wondered how the media works, or watched a TV programme and asked yourself what values underpin it? Ever pondered the ethics of media production and consumption?  Is there a theology of communication? How might the church engage with and support those who work in the media? Ever thought about how the national church engages with the media? How do church press offices work? Could your local church engage more effectively with the media? What might the digital future look like? How might social networking develop? Today Twitter and FaceBook,  tomorrow…?

MediaLit gave the opportunity to explore all these issues and more. Based in the wonderful setting of St John’s College, Durham,  MediaLit was a week long, intensive course – both hands on and theoretical – which brought together media practitioners, journalists, the Churches Media Council, those exploring how to use social media in relation to Christian faith, trainee ministers, vicars and other interested parties.”

Read the full reflection by Kate Bruce and indicate your interest in future MediaLit courses. Find Kate on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/johnschaplain

Guest Post on @thechurchmouse #medialit

“A few days ago Pete Phillips from CODEC guest blogged on the Church and Media Network Conference, and mentioned an upcoming course organised by CODEC and the Church and Media Network, called as MediaLit.  The course describes itself as “an opportunity for first class training and resources in media for ministry for those engaged in formal pre-ordination training, those already engaged in local or national ministry and anyone concerned to connect Christian faith with communication in a digital age. ”

MediaLit has now taken place, and Mouse wanted to bring it to your attention.  Below is a guest post from Dr Bex Lewis on what it was all about.  Bex has a PhD in Second World War posters (http://ww2poster.co.uk), teaches History & Media Studies, whilst working on Blended Learning projects for the Universities of Winchester & Durham.”

Read the full post here.

Review of #medialit

Key Learning Points & Actions

  • Should be important for all to take this, media is so central to our society.
  • Is it OK for all to have wi-fi when many still don’t have water?
  • If you can’t do something really well it’s better not to bother or pay others? If all that means is that noticeboard is smart, etc. and is all can manage, then go with that.
  • Given more confidence to use technology, especially new media.
  • Use simpler new media more effectively – use good values. Make own material that like – not just moan about Rob Bell, but make better.
  • Is it my fault that in The Times that Christians look stupid – so stop blaming the media & engage with existing, and stand up for own thoughts.
  • So many thoughts. Difficult to stay up to date & be savvy, and how naïve we are with broadcast radio/tv media. Would be good to have refreshers to keep people engaged. Need to step back from the computer screen & think what is this really showing/doing – the right tools!!
  • There’s a role for lots of people in our congregations, particularly those who find it difficult to get involved in other areas.  What can others bring to it.
  • Fun, creative & gets juices going. Much of the Church fairly joyless & hard work – how get some of this excitement across to congregations.
  • Preaching, etc.? What connects everyone in this room? Creativity – given by God. Whatever use of media (or any other role in the world) – do it well. Take more risks, leave space to fail!
  • So much creativity in the Christian community…  Politics of the Church tends to lock a lot of that down – so how do we find ways of releasing that?
  • The media is not the Messiah or the Devil.
  • Find different platforms for your own creativity.  All try – at least we’re going somewhere.

David Wilkinson

  • Take more risks…
  • Be honest about failure – breed confidence by honesty! When we get things wrong admit it & don’t try and involve the Holy Spirit as a justification!
  • Find a network of people you can trust & work with on collaborative projects.
  • Theology – so easy to get drawn into the mode of communication, and forget the theological basis for what you’re trying to achieve. Theological support or constraint you might have.  Remember the WHY and the HOW through a theological lens. Paul – justification for missionary movement moving on out..
  • Bringing together media professionals & theologians v. important.
  • What kind of support/encouragement, etc. are you going to offer to those e.g. making radio programmes on Sunday morning – and what are you going to learn from them. Theology & technology – keep it together.
  • God is much bigger than our laptops & there are more questions that just how we interact with media. Every initiative needs to be critiqued through issue of justice. Work out strategically what’s important – accept compromises/balance, but keep asking questions.
  • New Media – give access to information, etc. for both developed/developing nations. Africa – never be cabled, but mobile phone – making a huge difference!  What could you do that would serve the local community where you are? E.g. buying Wii for Friday night clubs, etc.
  • Do we need to take this on the road as a 2-3 day course? Can we identify those who are passionate and can lead this?  General congregation can get involved, but identify those with particular passions.
  • http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/divinity/research/projects/media-theology ?
  • How do we see God involved in this? Is media a gift (community, communication, being fully human in community)? Can be a gift that can be corrupted by us so need theological understanding. Similar questions between science/faith – until see science as a gift can’t deal with it theologically.
  • In our richness, how do we share in a way that isn’t patronising, but is liberating. JUSTICE issues… Divide between those who have access to free information, and those who  only have access to advertised information.

The Church and Media Network

  • http://churchmedia.moonfruit.com/
  • Media understand Christians better
  • Help Christians understand the media better
  • Support Christians working in the media (http://www.themedianet.org/)
  • Pray for those working in the media?  If you hear them, pray for them – let them know you’re praying for them..


  • Individualism vs community nature of the gospel
  • Christian media vs Christians working in the media (Just say yes if asked to contribute. Sucks the talent out, and takes an “out” for mainstream media as “they have their own space” – mainstream – have to be GREAT to get it out there – so we should aim to be good enough to get on BBC1, rather than putting it on own channel; what about e.g. getting Delirious in the charts, what about e.g. Athlete – band happen to be Christians, but they’re not KNOWN as that. MAKE good TV (not  necessarily “Christian” TV) – maybe you’ll get asked further questions, maybe you won’t.  Do we have to know, do people have to wear a label?
  • How support those who we want to take on roles in the congregation – not “oh, the vicar does it”.  Digitally enabled laity (those who are keen to use, enable them)
  • Where to start in applying it. What are they ALREADY communicating through notice board/their physical presence, the people in it, etc..

You are the light of the world, not you might be.

Use the right TOOL for the job.

New Media vs Old Media – midweek that seemed to be the way… now that divide also seems not to be there…  Don’t be AFRAID, just experiment, take risks, think about the MESSAGE that you have.  Sharing and more COLLABORATIVE seems to be more of the mood that’s coming out..


Ethics in the Media? #medialit

Who’s telling the truth? (Jeremy Paxman, The West Wing, Have I Got News for You)

Ethical: Truth, privacy, exploitations, taste, popularity, fairness, hurt?

Is anyone concerned about ethics? 2 years ago lots of ethical debates, started with Richard & Judy (You Say We Pay) – viewers phone calls, but no one past first 10 minutes. Most of these programmes make their money from phone calls. Set off a big hoo-ha…  and http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/6449919.stm

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-467754/Leibowitz-The-Queen-I-did-fall-BBC-tantrum-film.html – re-editing – changed the story (even though it wasn’t broadcast). Unleashed self-examination – with multiple scandals.

  • These edits must happen all the time, so why does it matter that it’s the Queen.
  • E.g. the whole of Big Brother – it tells the story you want..
  • Is it all mis-representation – e.g. Songs of Praise Easter Service filmed at Christmas?
  • Is it the celebration or the mediation?
  • Does it need e.g. “30 women in our survey”, do we need to sacrifice some entertainment for honesty?
  • Are we talking about levels of honesty?
  • Emma Watson’s boobs get bigger in the IMAX version of Harry Potter – is this any different from other models? Is the first image “real”? What assumptions are there about values about e.g. what makes people feel attractive, etc?
  • http://www.ohiohistory.org/capture/1971.html ; http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/farid/research/digitaltampering/kentstate1+2.jpg . I f take own photos try and take appropriately – so this is just like post-editing. Has it changed the meaning? Photo happened to catch a moment – so wasn’t set up? So does removing a fencepost from the image matter? What happens if we say one of the arguments is that students were unable to escape from the gunfire – the removal of the fencepost becomes significant?
  • http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2005/apr/12/election2005.uk1 – image doctored and used on the electoral leaflet. Hadn’t asked Anne Widdecome’s permission – and she was mad.
  • The Sun published a picture of Great White Shark (from Africa) – http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article2182715.ece; http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article251024.ece – went national, who would check, and damages the tourist industry. Why did they publish if not tree – because it will sell newspapers.
  • Is it OK that we see The Sun as entertainment, it doesn’t matter?!
  • Churches are not immune, what kind of stories do we put forward?

If you’re a news editor – what would you do if this story landed on your desk?

  • http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/tv/news/a12172/contestants-to-sue-sky-over-transvestite-show.html Are there people who are easily exploited? Values are coming from “don’t expect the media to be ethical”. What do we say about others who are being hounded by the media – is it problematic? The audience are complicit in exploitation.
  • BNP included in local TV (material being produced nationally although includes local stories).  Issues of freedom of speech? Basis as a local channel. Did they stop producing the tapes? Open access community channel – would monitor more closely? Where is the dividing line?  Can’t show illegal but CAN be offensive.. e.g. local sermons can be offensive to some. Similar story: http://www.premiercommunity.org.uk/forum/topics/revelation-tv-debate-nick
  • http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6676345.stm This story? It’s right to deceive in who they are to get ‘the truth’.  There are legally appointed bodies that could deal with this – e.g. Trading Standards – so why did the BBC not work with them?! Is the question different (can you break the law to find a story “in the public interest”) for journalists than others? Journalists may lose their lives in pursuing “the truth”.
  • Footballer, convicted of fraud, commits suicide in front of the group/cameras, etc. 30 minutes to air – would you air the story – with what audio/video. Convention  is that we don’t show the moment of death, but it isn’t illegal. At what point do you cut the pictures or the sound? Usually using a reporter on sight – he’s just seen a man commit suicide – is he going to be calm? Pastoral issues for the staff…  Why so many journalists are harsh – asking them to make sensitive decisions. Talking local press..
  • http://tweetphoto.com/29015976. Thought wouldn’t mention that she’d died – tell story by omission until knew more about the hostage situation – would ask for exclusive from the Police. What about other media (TV/radio/internet) likely to run the story – where does that leave you?  “Our job is to tell the truth, and to tell something as fully as you can” – if divert – on a slippery slope…

Are there still good news stories in the papers, etc? Journalists are SO lazy it tends to get in…

When researcher asks you to sign a contract, it’s a “blood chit”.

How naïve are we?! Does Christianity inform us – we can’t agree, so what about journalists, many of whom have no Christian value. However have high values on ‘truth’ & entertainment!

The Church of England #medialit

Interesting session on communications in the national church

What is the Church of England?”: “A Christian presence in every community”.

What is the CofE today?

Video created (no sound, add your own) explaining what the CofE is:

and interested in developing this.

The organisation is professional , proactive, integrated, and mission-orientated

Communications Strategy

External context scanning – communicate externally.  (EPISTLE)

  • Economic
  • Political
  • Informational
  • Social
  • Technological
  • Legal
  • Environmental

Once understand the issues that people are dealing with, can communicate more effectively.

The group had a discussion about what was the SWOT for the Church of England, and therefore how can it engage best?

6-7  million go to church regularly in the UK, of which 1 million CofE.

Website (Audience)

There’s both an internal (staff & regular churchgoers) and an external audience (including those looking for weddings/funerals, non-churchgoers and the press).  A very diverse audience, so it’s unlikely that people will agree with all.


Digital Engagement is key…  It used to be an extra optional layer, now it’s key, particularly for the external audience:

Most of these projects started small in a single church, and then the momentum grows – it’s not about picking big projects.

The group discussed a great project with regards to encouraging people to have ‘staycations’ and engage with the local community.