Why do churches need to ‘be online’, taking time from other activities? What might be the purpose?
A recent piece, published for The Conversation UK, under Creative Commons licence (republished on Durham University):
Should McCann Twitter abuser have been doorstepped on TV?
By Bex Lewis, Durham University
Brenda Leyland, a 63-year old woman from Leicestershire who had been accused of publishing a stream of internet abuse about the family of missing child Madeleine McCann, has been found dead in a hotel room.
Her death raises important questions about the wrongs and rights of how we handle people who express unpalatable views online.
Leyland had been exposed in a Sky News report as the person behind the Twitter account @sweepyface, which had been used to post offensive messages about the McCanns. These included the accusation that Madeleine’s parents were responsible for her disappearance. When confronted by a Sky News reporter about whether she should have posted such messages, Leyland said: “I’m entitled to do that.”
Days before Leyland’s death, BBC Radio 4 ran a story about how the police were investigating abusive social media messages sent to, or published about, the McCanns. Madeleine’s father Gerry McCann featured, suggesting that these messages are fuelled by press reporting. He added that he thinks more people should be charged for internet abuse and revealed that his family tends to avoid the internet because of the nature of threats and insults they receive.
For obvious reasons, the McCanns had encouraged a high-profile press campaign after Madeleine’s disappearance. But without answers about what happened to Madeleine, conspiracy theories have abounded. Brenda Leyland was one of many to discuss the McCann case online. As Rev Pam Smith, one of my Facebook connections said, are we really saying that people are not “entitled” to share adverse views online?
Leyland said she “hoped she hadn’t broken any laws”, but the Malicious Communications Act 1988, which covers Twitter, notes that it is an offence to send messages to another person which are “indecent or grossly offensive”, threatening or false. If the message is intended to cause distress or anxiety to the recipient, they breach the law.
We have to consider whether Sky has a case to answer in this particular situation too though. The broadcaster’s correspondent approached Mrs Leyland on her own doorstep in a live broadcast. She evidently had no idea that she was going to be confronted or that the footage would be broadcast to the world.
Whether or not we like what Leyland had been doing, she was clearly just one of several people who had been expressing their opinions online. She was certainly not the worst. Is doorstepping people, outing them on TV, and ensuring that their face circulates the internet, really the answer? Had Sky done any research into this woman before they put her face in the public domain? Did they know anything about her mental state? Did she just have the misfortune to be the first person who could be made an example of?
Her case carried echoes of the recent media treatment of Cliff Richard. The BBC was heavily rapped for broadcasting live from his home as police raided it. The police of course need to investigate such stories but it is a worrying sign of our culture that trial by media and even trial by gossip appear to have become acceptable.
Media ethics are typically concerned with truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness, public accountability and limitation of harm. After the Leveson inquiry, there has been increased emphasis on press responsibility. But in a time of rapid media change and fast-moving news, broadcasters must ensure they too meet their ethical responsibilities.
Bex Lewis does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.
Ruth Gledhill asked me for a quote earlier today re “The former Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, has warned of of the potential of social media to inflame wars to global proportions and said: “God himself weeps at the evils being committed in His name.” Here’s some of my response:
Dr Bex Lewis, research fellow with Codec, which explores the interfaces between the Bible, the digital world and contemporary culture at Durham University and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age, criticised Lord Sacks for a “technological determinist” position – that the technology is responsible for forcing a person to act in a particular way, rather than giving new opportunities which a person make choices around.
She said: “Social media can be considered like a brick – you can build houses with it, or you can throw it through people’s windows. People are doing both with it, as people have always done with every communications medium. Yes, social media allows messages to move faster globally, and those who speak loudest will often be listened to. Social media, however, gives the opportunity to speak back, particularly if people gather together.”
Read full article.
Today’s programme was pre-advertised as:
Should there be a ‘fat tax’ on sugary drinks and fast food?
This week the government announced a new healthy food school meal initiative across England. This is part of the solution to tackle the growing obesity issue facing the UK. A quarter of British adults are now thought to be obese. The NHS spends around £5billion a year on treating conditions linked to obese patients. Prof Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England, told a committee of MPs that “we may need to introduce a sugar tax”.
Would you support a new tax? Should we pay more for unhealthy foods? Or, would this be a case of a nanny state telling us what we should eat?
You can have your say by voting on the question now online or live via SMS during Sunday’s programme: Should there be a ‘fat tax’ on sugary drinks and fast food?
I sent a tweet several days ago – and I think Graham’s were too. As I continue to work with Beyond Chocolate, and think about all the reasons that we eat other than because we’re hungry, an interesting watch. In many ways a ‘fat tax’ doesn’t seem to make much sense, but if that money encouraged food industries to use ‘proper ingredients’ rather than cheap ingredients such as palm oil it might make some sense… we can live in hope – my tweet was slightly ironic I think!
Thanks Vicky for picking up the emotional eating line – was worried amongst the group emphasising education, which seems straightforward, but research has shown that people’s ideas of what is ‘healthy’ change over time, or people return to ‘calories in = calories out’ and I’m not sure it’s that simple either… bits to chew over!
I’ve just had a commissioned piece published on the Church of England’s Church Growth Research & Development Blog. Here’s the start:
For many churchgoing is no longer the ‘cultural norm’. People don’t actively ignore the church: they don’t even think about it. Matthew 5:13-16 calls us to be salt and light in the world, and for thousands in the ‘digital age’, that world includes social networks such Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest. With literally billions in the digital spaces, the online social spaces presented by churches need to be appealing, welcoming, and not look like they are just an afterthought: they are now effectively the ‘front door’ to your church for digital users, and you ignore those spaces at your peril.
Read the full piece.
This will depend, of course, upon power, signal, etc. in the villages/hotel – a certain amount of pre-testing has been done, but we won’t know until we get there…
- Twitter: @drbexl, @bigbible, #tfbloggers
- Will 500 people give £1 to Tear Fund? Go to Give.Net
I’m going as part of my work for CODEC, and so plan to feed back into BigBible with an overview – keeping this blog for my more personal reflections, and BigBible for more a #digidisciple aspect… whilst the wonderful @vahva looks after the Big Bible site itself.
“The 1st thing to remember is that the only person who loves change is a baby with a wet nappy.”
- What is a theory of change?
- Action research theory
- Lewin’s change theories
- Systems theory
- Complexity theories
- Appreciative enquiry
Meantime, on Twitter:
I had the privilege of meeting Simon this morning. I’m looking, for @bigbible, to do something like his Tole-Rants (so impressive), but I need to do it on a shoestring… The guy is engaging, interested, incisive, insightful and all round good guy. Here he is in action changing the world…
In my third day working for CODEC, I ensured that my bio was available on the CODEC site, so here’s my new role for St John’s College, University of Durham:
Bex has a background in history, completing her PhD in ‘British Home Front Propaganda Posters of the Second World War’in 2004 at the University of Winchester, where she’d done her first degree in History with Education Studies. Bex built her first website in 1997, has built many more, and has undertaken accessibility and usability projects. She, however, is more interested in people/ communication/ popular culture than programming, and therefore was delighted when social media took off, and she is the Director of ‘Digital Fingerprint’, a social media consultancy.
As well as a ‘digital resident’, Bex is a polymath – she is the social media consultant for ‘Super Fun Days Out’, and has promoted interdisciplinary research, undertaken the LICC Toolbox course, and written for Damaris Culturewatch. After 7 months travelling around the world (Asia, Australasia, South America), she worked a summer season as a Tour Leader with Oak Hall Expeditions in 2008. She continues to work at the University of Winchester, as a ‘Blended Learning Fellow’ (finding tools for teaching using an appropriate mix of technology and face-to-face) with Associate Lectureships in Media Studies (particularly digital literacy) and History, alongside funded projects in student-skills and change management.
Bex is working for CODEC for 50% of her time throughout the 2010/11 academic year to develop ‘The Big Read’ on from its successful launch in the North-East over Lent 2010. The project will look to use the best mix of tools from the online and the offline worlds to encourage more engagement with the Bible, and draws upon Tom Wright’s forthcoming book ‘Matthew for Lent’. The project is supported by The Methodist Church, Premier Radio and SPCK, and Bex can generally be found at the Premier Radio offices in Pimlico Tuesday/Wednesday.
Join the project on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/bigbible.
This morning I have been presenting, using Prezi, accompanied by a number of exercises that I hope have made people think:
- The Digital Revolution and the Future (Prezi)
- The Digital Revolution and the Future (Notes)
- The Digital Revolution and the Future: Blogging
Hope you enjoy, and I look forward to your comments.
Currently listening to Pete’s presentation, may add a few more notes here, but the Prezi is easy to follow the train of thought!
http://menmedia.co.uk/oldhamadvertiser/news/s/1243081_church_loses_fight_to_block_new_takeaway?all_comments=1 – not really investigated the media and considering what was the BEST tool for the job. A problem, because there are many churches on Twitter, and the church only has 2 followers. Twitter is not solely about numbers, but it is a factor.
Video “I am Second” – hugely popular in the States (with all in the States – many stars putting their faith up): http://iamsecond.com/. Like Rob Bell, one person, and WORDS. How can we express the Christian message better in pictures? I have a slight problem in that as soon as I hear American accents talking about God, I dohttp://drbexl.co.uk/wp-admin/post.php?post=1674&action=edit&message=1n’t know if it’s for me (that seems like a terrible thing to say, but…)
- Is new media word based? Cross-platform?
- The “word” is at the centre of the Gospel – they can communicate effectively so why are we so desiring to get rid of them?
- Words are great, but VIDEO is not the space to use WORDS… real power of videos is in telling a story/visually
- As we move towards video calling, is that true? Embodiment is important?
“I am Second” = reverse celebrity culture. Props from Ikea (simplicity), why the dark location? The community around ‘I am Second’ online, including local groups. Many American youth stars, and many young people engaging strongly. What about ‘I am Last’?
Rob Bell & I am Second are polarising what we’re thinking… so if we, who are interested in media are, what about those who are just in the churches.
Communicate appropriately – e.g. shouldn’t communicate in Welsh… Feel excluded (and maybe slightly amused)… huge mythology in Aberystwyth – the Welsh speak Welsh as soon as the English are nearby.
Accommodation Theory – use same vocabulary, etc.
Know your audience and you can start to accommodate yourself to them – not JUST words! (Is that what Rob Bell is trying to do – speak the language of the American people – looks like a Mac advert?). What about De Montfort advert: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q67EKPLpi2M.
- When Paul goes to Greek city – always taking feet off the evangelistic pedal!!
- World doesn’t see a difference between nature & practice.
- Don’t be whipping people up with emotion, but see what God is already doing in their lives.
ACCOMMODATE to the world in which you live… rather than trying to protect ourselves in a Christian bubble… Get no sense from Rev Plumpton, as to how he actually has a relationship with the community. How compromise that identity in presenting self in media?
The Stolen Broadcast (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xl0oXmhTynw): Left open ended, want to ask questions… no fixed meaning (some don’t like this… because they don’t get it)… makes you think! So busy FOR God, not time WITH God… ?!
I Love Elvis: A bit like Asterix, can be read on different levels. Can enjoy with no overtones, but if ‘reading’ with some Christian understanding can see the underlying meaning. Good animation scriptwriting. [End caption would be ‘out of broadcast’…] Images tie up and really tell the same story (as you would see with the news), which is what Nooma/Resurrection didn’t do yesterday with Rob Bell. Interesting – comment from @fleming77 on Twitter: “we all grow out of Elvis one day”. Did this video miss the exciting point where there IS an opportunity to become Elvis’s?! A good modern parable, but has it been pushed too far? Nice scriptwriting by KOReUK, & animation by: http://www.ilovepinatas.com/
Concern? Jesus didn’t say “let’s tell a story… and then let’s have a discussion about it”. Usually he just told a story… Can just watch and then go to the pub? Or should they provide the discussion starters?
Not just to agree/reinforce, but to teach people something, to give NEW messages/information. What hurdles are you asking people to cross at the beginning of the gospels?
Paul goes out of his way to detextualise, to make it simple…
Does the medium need to dictate what the message is or be totally immersed in it?
At the end: What IS the message that you want to get across… and then choose the appropriate medium that you want to do that…
How it works
The Robin Hood Tax is a tiny tax on bankers that would raise billions to tackle poverty and climate change, at home and abroad.
By taking an average of 0.05% from speculative banking transactions, hundreds of billions of pounds would be raised every year.
That’s easily enough to stop cuts in crucial public services in the UK, and to help fight global poverty and climate change.
Because of the financial crisis, frontline services at home – like the NHS and our schools – are under fire.
At the same time, poor communities and the environment are being hit hard – as aid and green budgets are slashed by rich countries.
So it’s time for the people who caused this mess to pay to clean it up.
Gordon Brown, Angela Merkel (the German Chancellor) and Nicolas Sarkozy (the French President) have all spoken out in support of a tax on financial transactions.
Plenty of business bigwigs are on-board too. Like Lord Turner (from the Financial Services Authority), George Soros (the philanthropist) and Warren Buffet (US businessman extraordinaire). And then there are the hundreds of economists who have backed the idea, too.
This isn’t some crazy pipedream. It’s a simple and brilliant idea which transcends party politics and which – with your support – can become a reality.”
I’ve been on Facebook since December 2006, when Erika Harno introduced me to it. I didn’t really know what to do with it until I went skiing with Oak Hall in April, and within a week I had 70 “friends” (I’ve always been fascinated by the words these companies use – are all your friends REALLY friends? And isn’t followers for Twitter a bit creepy, as for Fans on Facebook pages – I’m sure there must be another word for that now pages are hosted by non-celebrities e.g. I have one for Digital Fingerprint and created one for Super Fun Days Out, which we’re still developing).
Now the joke is that I’m never off it, so I was curious when I saw the offer to create a tag cloud of all my status updates ever (there are other options)… I wonder how recognisable I am to my Facebook friends!
Looks like I am always wondering what’s happening tomorrow, and tired at night… and I’m always trying to do something! I’ve clearly talked about various interviews – upcoming, outcomes, etc. and clearly quite often update my status as I’m dilly-dallying about getting dressed! Bizarre mix, but not that surprising!
I’ve clearly used more words than this, so be interesting to see the algorithm that is used (not that I’d make much sense of it if it’s pure maths…). The cloud to the left is taken from a lifetime of tweets, whilst the one below is from the last month.