Digital Event Life(style)

#cmn10, notes, Day 1

Pretty much unedited notes from the conference (I may add in a few links,  or a few other things I remember!)

Digital Environment, Andrew Graystone

Most of world now speaks same language (1/0) – live in a cloud of digital information. Whichever form of media you work in, are working within this environment.  A cloud = hard to see what’s ahead! Cloud – obscure vision/living under a cloud – for faith = more positive resonance – God – to speak directly – wraps himself in a cloud. Maybe God disorientates us when he wants to tell us the really important stuff!

Our job – share ideas/encourage each other, but also discern what digital environment is saying to us & how we reflect this back to the production community! Launch of

Roger Bolton (TV/Radio, BBC inc editing Tonight Panorama Nationwide. ITV factual programmes).

Information easily available on the web –“the gutter and the stars are within easy reach” – easy to get ourselves out there, if we can be found. Everything has been sped up except the response of our Christian organizations. 24 hour news service doesn’t have 24 hour response.

What can the digital world NOT do – can’t make new programmes that require large resources…. Programmes get 1million + visitors. The net then is living off the past – a lot of the material made in the past and thought to have no further value – is placed online. So who is paying for the NEW material – ensure that it’s not a piece of propaganda. Often websites don’t say who has produced it…Religious programmes – off higher quality, but fewer – most produced by BBC. Channel 4 peak/budgets – but not replacing person in charge of religious programming. Now – someone with responsibility for about 4 other things. Quality not quantity re: PSB. Only PSB does this – unless those who are producing propaganda.

What is PSB? Broadcasting Research Unit: geographic universality, catering for all interests/tastes, catering for racial minorities, concerned with ??, not funded by government/advertising, competition in true programming rather than numbers, guidelines to liberate not restrict programme makers.

Can the digital world go there? For regulators – have we given up the ability to regulate (Ch 3-5), present thinking of Channnel 4. License fee, not banned, cap expenses/funding, etc but in short time have license fee.

Language of journalism – changing. [Wasn’t as good in my day, etc.] – distinguish between cynicism & scepticism. [Jenny Russell – David Lawson sage]. Interviewers hunting for weaknesses & contradictions rather than insights… Difference, present ‘the facts’, not a moral judgement…

If working for the BBC – working for ideals, not the organisation itself… Channel 4 – significant audiences, because has genuine staff who are interested. BBC – seen as tiresome obligation – secular producers! Licence payers have a right to decent programming in this area. Can see from recent push on Science programmes what can happen when have keen people behind it… ‘Taking Belief Seriously’ – BBC seminar paper – download… v. stimulating seminar – largely ignored. Support should be given for PSB/Religion broadcasting – with promises extracted – BBC needs pressure from the community!

Why interviewees don”t fight back from interviewers – why absent/wimpish! Voice of the Church often not heard until long after the event really happened… Come out straight, say got it wrong, apologise, etc. but use argument for your agenda – why don’t people really do this? Too many trapped in the headlights and not ready to deal directly with the questions…

Need broadcasters for national conversations, to manage expensive programming – PSB has a place, regulation needs to continue. Keep pressure on BBC/Ch 4 re: religious programming. Need Religious/Ethics Editor working at the centre – to make a difference to the news.

Retain values in new digital world – by being there!

QUESTION: So many CofE – BBC finds it convenient to dismiss people as complainers who have lost something, rather than those with vast range of expertise in everyday culture, etc. Religion – collapse of authority, and also most editors – liberals who are baffled by the importance so many have in their life. We don’t necessarily want our man/woman inside the machine, but that this is neglecting the needs of people – needs to be framed constructively.  Great common cause with Muslim community… most associate Islam with terrorism… Not looking for privileges, just want better reporting, etc.


I presented this information “Top Tips for Social Media“, although WITHOUT the Prezi, because the venue had been struck by lighting the previous day and taken out the internet connection! I got a great response, with lots of people asking me for more information afterwards – which I always take as a good sign!


I managed to join the last 15 minutes of this, where we were chatting about the need for digital literacy, and the need to be open, authentic and to be ENGAGED – there’s no possibility to just shut down!


Alexander des Forges – Catholic Communications Network

Integral human development – faith = integral part of life – message which is coming from the Pope shorty – message for whole human society.

Digital possibilities available to us today – can celebrate locally –… Send in pics/films – communicate with each other.

Visit can demonstrate that UK – integrated. Catholics – not ghettoised..

Hope – bring the Pope’s words to as many people as possible (rather than noise of 24/7 media coverage – polemics/confrontation). Affirming good things in society. Bringing hope to all…

Jack Valero – Beatification of John Henry Newma n

Communicate – discover his writings, etc – so widest range of society has access to him. Promote

Using controversies to generate news stories –be a resource for media & interested publics.

Controversies: Homosexuality (celibate life); the battle for the soul of Newman; Holiness; The Miracle….

Austen Ivereigh Catholic Voices

“A media-friendly, studio-ready of articulate, ‘ordinary’ Catholics ready to answer questions on issues spotlighted during the papal visit.”

Duty to communicate/obligation to communicate – being willing to witness in every context. Trained to be authoritative but not official. Don’t speak for the Church… but lay Catholic – theologically versed & media tranied.

Intelligence Square Debate. Where are those willing & able to debate in ‘hot’ environments… Worked well for team formed in 2006 able to talk to the Da Vinci Code Response Group.

Kathleen Griffin – The Forgiveness Formula.

The Catholic Union – blessing of the bishop, but not speaking for them = flexible.

Range of voices for the Catholics – pretty much all young… briefing on ‘hot button issues’ every 2 weeks – media skills training… TV studio training & retreat.

Neuralgic point – why squeal when these issues are pressed – where is the divergence between Catholics and the ‘everyday world’. Briefing paper – know the issues, grill an ‘expert’ – can see either example of a good answer or a thought ‘need to do better’. Prepared for any question. Reframing… what is positive intention behind it & how can we answer that! Practical exercises followed by a post-briefing paper.

Potential errors in Church communications – scepticism or hostility/defensiveness

Naivete – idea – media = a place for evangelism       ?

Positive – media have every right to ask these questions – public wants to know – understand constraints, etc. that media is under. Need to understand/admire the purpose of media.

Generate light not heat… illuminate not entertain!

Want thinking articulate Catholics who think through the issues for themselves… not trying to train robots to toe the party line… ID heart of issues/nailing the issues.

QUESTIONS: The media ‘loves a dog collar’ – how well trained are they? Maybe not as so – but this is AN ADDITION rather than instead of. Logistically – demand means others will be required.

Credibility – how can to terms with perception (e.g. sex abuse) – can’t ‘wish it away’, so have to answer honestly… as Pope has done repeatedly. Controversies open doors – can respond calmly… Requires an early intervention – before damage becomes worse… Most not interested in Church saying ‘it’s terrible’ – they want to see it put right – e.g. ensure doesn’t happen again (awaiting Peter Tatchell’s documentary pro-gay-rights campaigner – will it be a documentary or an anti-Pope documentary).


Andrew Copson, British Humanist Association

What is religion? What is the public square? Emerges from conversation than pontification.

Last 4-5 years, decline religious belonging & also in belief. Surveys demonstrate this. Professor Boas, Manchester. Not just Christian – with associated decline in identity, etc. Difficult to get media/religion in discussion – identities/values/meaning, etc. – even more difficult in Humanist – ethics/morals, etc… What is Christianiphobia (building of a mosque/wearing of a cross?).. Oppression & dilution – but see results of most tribunals, etc. – almost always say is not what has gone on…(Archbishop would say even legal against – is this true?). Lack of proportionality – Daily Mail, etc. outlets for e.g. Christian Institute news feeds.. Desire for conflict/combat/extreme positions… rarely reflects what’s really happening! Every year – asked to say ‘we want to ban nativity plays’ – says no – but they always find someone! Honest disagreement can be proper, but not continual conflict… Extremists tend to be prepared to come in and say this kind of material  – get name for selves…

Elaine Storkey, Chair C&M Council

Public sphere… hold back on proportionality – e.g. sense of prosecution, etc. The public/private dichotomy engaged in culture (e.g. art, politics, economics, etc. = objective, public values), then private (intimacy, relationships, belief, etc. – like sex, between consenting adults in private). Notions of neutrality/objectivity – for public… Polly Toynbee – should get out of public AND private space – contributes detrimentally to society so should be gone… Often journalism – says won’t privilege ‘Christianity’ – essentially says WILL privilege secularism.

Don’t start here – go back further to identify what governs our economics/policies – what are they based on – markets are not mere mechanisms = imbued with moral/spiritual issues that underly them – e.g. economic values…

Andrew: Secularism – neutrality – no influence on the state… growing default assumption that materialistic, atheist approach – normal & Christians are weird… But ARE secularist Christians so use term with care…  Who is being privileged?  E.g. if ex-Bishops are in House of Lords = gain religious privilege. Don’t need to have Bishops in the HoL to have Christians in there…

Elaine: Looking for pluralism rather than secularism – a need to hear all voices – see secularism as not ALL voices.

Andrew: Not possible for e.g. PM to hive off faith outside of their work. Many people’s beliefs are composite.. shared/diverse society…

By Digital Fingerprint

Digiexplorer (not guru), Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing @ Manchester Metropolitan University. Interested in digital literacy and digital culture  in the third sector (especially faith). Author of 'Raising Children in a Digital Age', regularly checks hashtag #DigitalParenting.

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