[EVENT] The MediaNet Church and Media Network Conference #CMC18

My only contribution to this year’s Church and Media Network Conference, held yesterday in London, was through a podcast prior to the event, but it’s always great to be able to follow an event via Twitter – so I’ve collected the tweets here (just under 200):


Twitter @ The MediaNet

Guest Post: Sam Pratt

“I upgraded my naff LG phone to a shiny new Samsung Android the other week and got very excited over the Twitter application. I wasn’t bothered about the actual phone bit of my new toy! As a Twitter lover, nothing pleased me more than being able to use the social media giant properly in all its glory, especially when I got accepted to attend the MediaNet academy at the Church and Media Conference in Swanwick. Being a media conference, the majority kept to their stereotype by bringing their netbooks, iPhones and other technical gadgets to keep the outside world and each other in touch of what they were doing. I think Twitter is a great way to interact and get the most out of a large event such as the Church and Media conference because you can share information, meet people and generally (to use an old phrase) ‘get the low down’ on everybody else.

I myself being utterly useless at remembering the basics of overnight travelling, looked in my luggage when I got there and realised I left my shampoo at home. Typical. Even though I’m a guy, having clean hair is quite important to me! So instead of feeling sorry for myself and since I didn’t have any time to do a recce of the local shops I did what my Scout leader always tells me in tough times “Buff up Sam!”- such a nice bloke. I Tweeted my dilemma using the conference hashtag #cmn10. Soon after I got a query from another delegate at the conference asking whether I had sorted out my #conferencecrisis as she had spare shampoo! Delighted at this tweet I arranged a time to meet in the bar to exchange business cards and mutual love for coconut fragrance (trust me, I’m straight)

In the academy we were filming outside in pouring rain when all the delegates came out for lunch and started to take pictures of us and then posted them on Twitter proclaiming our bravery for the world to see. Although this is very common for people to Tweet pictures of people or events they see, is it an invasion of our privacy? Probably, but we didn’t care, the thought of hard work being recognized on the World Wide Web was quite encouraging. The girls in my group didn’t know a thing about Twitter and found it all more interesting since they were broadcasted on the internet.

So all in all, my experiment on the power of social media has exceeded my expectations because I made new friends through unusual circumstances- social media still is very social.”

See what Sam & the MediaNet video crew produced:

Digital Event Life(style)

#cmn10, notes, day 3

The final day of the conference, a few rough notes!


ChurchAds – new campaign.


Tim Levell, Editor Blue Peter. (Lots of news experience)

Start off – agree none of our faiths represented well enough (is this like always asking for more sweets). Fears that Christian characters will all be weird! In big crises, etc. everyone goes to the big charities – e.g. Oxfam.

Inayat Bunglawala, Muslim Council of Britain

Annoying – can Shariah law and British law work together? Archbishop Canterbury – said one thing, and others in the media re-represent it as more controversial, etc. than it was – and have gone off on a tangent, and does affect the consciousness of people! Take effort to understand what people are actually saying! More positive stories – e.g. Eastenders (sexual orientation rarely discussed in Muslim circles). Shift to digital media – terrestrial channels no longer have a captive audience – people are voting with their feet – if they’re not getting the news they want they have so many other avenues to go to.. Acres of coverage of extremist Muslim groups – so frustrating as media coverage is so unbalanced (can get some balance via digital media) … e.g. when he was growing up the N Ireland coverage – affects his attitudes. Now 50% Brits associate Islam with terrorism..

Harmander Singh, Sikhs in England

‘Shy & Retiring types’ – tend to be rather insular. More in UK than census shown. Easily identifiable by turbans – and media tends to seize upon photos, etc. that tell a story that’s not there… not helpful to the community which gets the wrong label. Use languages in the media with care – e.g. not all Sikh murders are honour killings… Limits to what can be done… Are there any serious characters? Check out Sikhs in the City – showed ‘real’ – but so occasional – see as a novelty…

Chris Cole, Cross Rhythms + Europe Director God TV

Simon Mayo pushed to the edge & an anti-Christian theme in comedy, etc. Media driven by the sensational.. Power of impact on the society – we know it’s a soap, BUT impacts on society. What Christian would you like to see on screen – many Christians are just very functional/normal people – but never see them on TV. We need role models that truly reflect what our nation is built on. As a nation, we don’t know what we’re standing on in terms of values (Judeo-Christian?). Church in UK going through a reformation itself – becoming more about community interaction. Cross Rhythms – help the church engage. E.g. Street Pastors. Be great to see mainstream media pick up on moer positive stories…

Christina Rees & Aaqil Ahmed (BBC Head of Religion & Ethics)

…See Tweetstream… (sorry, I was only half-listening, I was summarising the entire conference in 3 minutes – I took it to 3 pages, and then back down to one!)


A great production, as per usual, this time on the theme of the World Cup.  I’m trying to track it down online, as I was finishing off the plenary!


Commenced with a summary from Russ Bravo (that ‘story’: the need to tell them and the need to train others to tell them well was the key focus of the conference), and from me.

We’re stronger together, still lot of reluctance with social media, MediaNet – facilitate media training/access in, Media finds it like catching jelly in a net – how improve that? Stop having the old debates (local isn’t dying, it’s changing); if the BBC isn’t doing something – we do it – and if Stop whinging, but write and congratulate the great programmes (& offer help for future)

Suggestion for next year – facilitating increased opportunities for networking; more social media being used, more workshops – e.g. Sound_Mike – podcasting. Wider range of media – nothing from media/print press. Conference which is a must for any senior media CEO to attend. (resource issue).  What resources does CMN already have? Hear hear for workshops!

The Nativity – vulnerability in his story about faith!

Digital Event Life(style)

#cmn10, notes, day 2

As before, my rough notes from the conference, with bits added in as I think of them…

Prof. Tony Campolo, Prof Sociology, activist, Evangelical Democrat…

The Fundamentals of the Christian Faith.. 1930s… movement ‘fundamentalism’ started – was respectable… open minded, intelligent, etc… but soon became legalistic & sectarian, separate from mainline orgs. Billy Graham/Christianity Today – decided needed new name = evangelical.

Evangelical – means – believe in doctrines of Apostles Creed. High view of scripture (infallible message from God – acknowledges are contradictions within text?), salvation = intimate transforming relationship with Jesus.

1960s – liberal orientation *homosexuality & pro-life. Hot Buttons. 70 million born-again evangelical Christians – so politics make issue hot topic (Republicans could win on anti-these-issues). Secular Media – decided who the go-to persons (Jerry Forewell & Pat Robinson) were 7 soon ‘evangelical’ also had baggage. (Anti woman, gay, environmentalism, Muslims, Democrats, pro-war). Harvard students ‘knew’ who he was.. Campolo so many ways NOT that…

Need ANOTHER name… Red-letter Christians. Shane Clayborne, etc. Best sermon ever – ‘The Sermon on the Mount’ – “obviously Jesus was joking as if we take him seriously our lifestyles would be very different”. Wish Jesus had said ‘should not’, not ‘cannot’… Recession – so much money lost – what about ‘do not store treasures for yourselves in heaven’. So glad went to theological seminary – realised Jesus didn’t mean EXACTLY what he said… e.g. don’t have to give away everything, just need to be willing to do so…  NOW going back to the scriptures! Babylon – the dominant economic-social system – often referred to… $250,000 a minute being spent in Iraq – borrowing the money from China. Scripture says – every Babylon falls.  To maintain Babylon, uses resources… at some point – e.g.other nations say – we won’t feed your habits any more…

Red Letter Christians are fighting back against the media, dominated by evangelical Christians. Hope for Justice – naivety – belief that if arrest ‘the bad guys’ – all done – but blames the media – that media is sexist, and is a bigger problem to deal with. Unpopular view – but why are e.g. MTV – women undressed/just because Christian words, does it make … E.g. One girl, ‘serviced 100 men’ – why are we so concerned with getting 1 woman off the streets, why not dealing with the 100 men who are exploiting them. Church too obsessed with gays to focus on the dominant culture in their own congregations… Muslims – justifiable when call us decadent & consumerist. Red Letter Christians – embraced basic lifestyles. Good degree ? good job ? money ? stuff. Why do we interpret lives in terms of appreciating ‘stuff’.

James Gunn Princeton – consumerist culture to blame for a lot of problems, esp in African-American. Goals to reach (stuff) via socially prescribed means of getting there. In USA more than 50% born to single parents… New Jersey – 42% likely that will spend a year behind bars before 25… have same goals ‘stuff’, but don’t have access to e.g. the education which allows them access to ‘stuff’. We don’t need the Holy Spirit – we have Coca Cola (indoctrinated by media) – world in perfect harmony – seems unreal, then voice says ‘It’s the Real Thing’.

Sociologists – say – if can’t have legitimate means of reaching things, will use illegitimate means. Media – both reflector of culture and creator of culture. People in East saying, do you in the West have any sense of modesty whatsover. Environmentalism – essentially a way to maintain our current lifestyles without changing them… Into Iraq – not to give democracy – democracy is not just giving a free election, but it’s a place in which it’s safe to be a minority. Radio/TV no longer main source of news – they are online. Teenagers, etc. – get their news from specific TV programmes… Main denominations – should be ‘the sidelined denominations’ – are new movements coming through – e.g. counter-cultural emerging churches. With online communications – can challenge the mainstream churches who aren’t involved… Everyone dies – when you die are you going to be the only one who’s happy – it depends on how you live – is it all about the stuff?! Counter-cultural – reject the titles … and the culture…

QUESTIONS: God is in control? Return to Bible – God will reign.. can’t defend omnipotent God… with e.g. Haiti, Cumbria, etc. Task of the church to reclaim the world for under the Lordship of Christ  – how can we do this if we believe that Jesus is already in control.

148th Psalm – environmental – everything created to praise God. Calivinists believe we’re the centre of the universe…. created for us to enjoy. All created to reflect the glory of God. E.g. if lose a species – silence a hymn to God – commit blasphemy!

Cameron/Obama – going to be cuts – where do we start? The military? Christians need to learn to live in community, rather than as individuals. What does God require of you – not praise songs, but fight for justice… Plausibility group – to keep you committed – individually we all fall prey.

Should Christians work in the media? Of course, but be subversive – don’t become a ‘systems man’/play corporate games! Christians invade every sector of the system…


David Holdswoth, BBC controller of English Regions

Gavin Sheppard, Media Trust

Duncan Williams, Newspaper Entrepreneur


BBC Regions – aims to be most trusted & creative local & regional broadcaster in England. 7% of licence fee produces 71% of output. 40 stations, 8 million listeners. Focus on distinctiveness.

English Regional TV – still hunger for local information – e.g. in the snow – had amazing figures, although even in general = good. News, weather, travel, sport. 45 local websites. Balance between linear/online world appropriately – getting the balance between ‘the dad’ & ‘the lad’. Dad, even after training can’t use it. Lad, only watches football on TV otherwise everything online.


Faith in what you’re hearing, and a belief that you can be a part of it – local media. 24 hour media only really a worry for those writing schedules – not really a concern for those who consume. BBC News 24 – if watch for more than 1 hour = deja vue. More important things locally = news/weather/traffic – e.g. find out the hyper-local news in the church (e.g. local fete, change in use, etc.). Newsletter – can consume passively through headlines. This year, 54% trust online news, 34% papers, 52% TV, 66% radio… Trust by Council Run newspapers – fall dramatically… Need independent local press that people can engage with – engage is key – can’t just be a one-way thing.  Media, when used correctly – has phenomenal power to change things. If those ‘on the sidelines’ can become engaged, start to realise that don’t need to remain there – confidence in democracy in which they live, or information to contribute locally, validation & recognition!


Exciting times – change emanates from the bottom… Funding can’t be done by fundraising, has to be done via e.g. advertising. Pay for quality journalism – difficult in recession. We get caught up in the machine – striving for the house/car, etc. Local stories – inspiring – often not followed up by national press. Advertisers are interested in being associated with a positive newspaper… morally – why do we put up with these newspapers… why do we enjoy stories that actively harm/attack people – can we change that by great local papers – local opportunities – stories & support economic growth. Can’t rely on cover price for papers – so talking to mobile phone companies – possibility of subsidising e.g. phone access to content!

Anyone can publish a blog, etc. but we need quality news. Local media started out as vicar’s newsletter for local news… Now become very distorted…

QUESTIONS: Expects local media to work through mobile, etc. – e.g. iPad – people will read from there – use some of the contract monies to fund journalists?! Most blogs, etc. – take their lead from the national press… need widest range of press to draw on – need citizen-led journalism but alongside = quality journalism. So many schooled to beat the opposition- now having to learn to work together. Magazine = longer shelf life & attract more expensive advertising – supports local press… Avoid creating sensationalist news (e.g. ‘Only kills 6’)…

Positive/Negative news – complaints not enough positive stories. Given 6 stories to rank into importance, and always would put ‘200 lose jobs’ over ‘200 jobs gained’.

Maybe don’t want Paxman style, but do want people called properly to account.

What’s happening in 10 years – more digital, but always a place for print news because can use it more passively. Rise in citizen journalism.

Naturally curious & lots of ideas – otherwise not right for media… Multi-skilled is important – find story, write it, make video, edit & a discussion forum. Find a voice/a blog – show your passion!


Childwise Monitor Report 2009-10 (pdf)

Club Penguin – not alien to 5-8 year olds, in virtual worlds. The kids are waiting for the teachers to come on board and interact!

Pressure from 9 year olds for mobile phones.

Clex Report (global identity)

We – listen to more radio because we’re on the internet. TV, we watch TV via own scheduling…

9-12 year olds, SATs and looking forward to senior school. Most popular site is Facebook… even though not supposed to be on it til 12. Go on daily to play Farmville – virtual dog – feed daily (like a modern tamagotchi).

Online – Enhancing or divorcing experiences..

Who is writing this report, how dubious are they? What questions did they ask?

Aspirational viewing (Just 17, Dave, Skins)

13-16 year olds.

Socially acceptable to share/free (etc.)  – e.g. uni students (Google Books), share music. 1 in 4 download apps – expected to grow.

Spotify – £10 month, no advertising, listen offline

What can we do with this information?!

Being part of that community wherever it may be – online or in the pub or wherever. Being authentic (indrag not outreach – traditional evangelism – now looking for pull in rather than pushing out)… gives you right to be who you are – with faith as part of it. BEING GENUINE

Before, during, after… extends an event!Build up audience beforehand, then through event then close down. Pre-history, etc., then follow live events & discuss after…

New Media needs to not be ‘new media’ any more, but part of an integrated/convergent package. Got to be interested in the content… Very scared of it… NOT NEW MEDIA

Socks for Happy People – treat everyone as major donor.

Comments – expect – can’t have 100% control… why get so much negativity from PR.

Press release – comments – not just ‘read it’…

Social Media allows people to get involved in democracy (Digital Economy Bill). Tweet questions from real time…  Live Sat feed follow debates & tweet in…Serious democracy.

e.g. Facebook ‘I voted’. What was being said on TV and what real people saying on Twitter..

LibDems – implying going to do well, etc. – says more about social media profile (younger!), etc. Provided engagement of the younger generation.

The Million £ Drop – total interactivity – if lost, you lost?

Leaders – speak to people – afraid of the 2 way debate… pilot project – loved it continued. Start people with blog offline ? online.

(Rachel – how to blog)

Need to change e.g. the education system (schools, universities, giving that digital literacy & that confidence so that they can become thought leaders). DIGITAL LITERACY.

Churches facilitate.. everyday events e.g. cvs, social media

Zimbabwe – greatest opps coming through social media & internet. 4 million in exile. Trying to come up with strategies for groups, etc.. how know being effective…

Kenya – few have internet, but most have bluetooth.. so utilise this.. Bluetooth video.



Creative, low cost entry, changing all the time, since Gutenberg (the first time that Christians have chance to get on the front page).

Carrie Longton, Mumsnet

Met Justine at anti-natal classes, mum novices – wanted to share information so ‘who to know’. Forum – interactive way of talking (different from blog). Worked because could only work online – for the volume, etc. If you don’t want to know, don’t ask, but if you do want to have a debate – use social media, etc. We are the ‘Tripadvisor generation’ – knows how to critique. Simple rules on the forum – can still be tricky to monitor. Not one easy way of doing it, but have to be prepared to put your money where your mouth is. Sometimes not going to change people – can get very wound up when just can’t… Social media can suck you in, but learn to let it go! Moderation = the wisdom of the crowds – rare that wrong information/slander, etc exists – can leave & sometimes people come back & show how they’ve changed…  Big thing to be wary of – anyone could be who they said they are… How much to put up – if you don’t want to be identifiable, don’t make yourself too identifiable (e.g. if your mum might ever be on there, be happy?!)

What has really made a difference is the small acts of kindness, etc.. Remember, the bad stories get the press, there’s lots of positive stories. How does this interact with the geography/”real”, etc. – e.g. recommends from online/local, etc. Need volume, traffic or loyal followers (who goes through your affiliates) – might cover costs – didn’t earn anything for 6 years – don’t expect to get rich quick! If you have a community – and can offer them something valuable – then may start to see returns. Advertising policy has been agreed by users…

Simon Cohen, MD, Global Tolerance (UNESCO, Bible Society, PR expert)

Passionate soc media to inspire positive social change. Change was slow, etc. Religious affairs website for those not caring about religion known as ‘Adam & Eve It’. Comes from a Jewish background, picked on at school… Why do we still see pics of Twin Towers 9 years after event – what more positive images can we see, etc. Can do moderation, can do naval-gazing – but can walk away… moderation… similar as in physical space set up in a space where self-regulated – where people ‘know’ how to facilitate – set the tone for the dialogue that ensues… More we put up superficial barriers between who we are online/offline more difficult to ‘play the game’.

Thinking about relationships by how close people are to his heart – how much of me am I willing to share before engaging in each relationship, whether personal or business. Facebook – invited to free party, had some of the free nibbles, so don’t complain because it was free. It’s not Facebook taking away our privacy – we’re choosing how much of yourself you are prepared to put up!

Faithbook on Facebook – you’d be daft not to use Facebook, next year over 600 million users (3rd largest country) – plug in where people already are, rather than trying to drag them somewhere else. Rarely have your core activists on Facebook – move from like to love – tend to take it away… Close circle – move to e.g. Ning.

Advantage online vs offline campaigns. Not what set out to be but politicians started to take an interest, realised had leverage from women who are a strong force… Can have quick discussions on a issue that wouldn’t have been possible if needed to bring everyone into it. In an age, not so interested in problems, but in solutions…

Facebook causes a helpful start for info. Use Ning. Pink Giving – can raise funds through there.

QUESTIONS – agree convergence online/offline lives

How to make public aware of how to use online applications, and how to use them well.

Faith communities – talk about what this means for whole life, etc. Each of us needs to be as educated as we can be for this, similar respect for online/offline…

STRESS THE EMPHASIS – On coherent  genuineness between online/offline

Being online – might be freer online – can be anonymous – can admit to each other that e.g. hate 3 year old, and can find others who agree… Can find others who can help each other…

Why not Dadsnet? Parentsnet wasn’t as catchy – and Dads just don’t communicate in the same way!! Objected to ‘the Men’s Room’ – so is Dadsnet…

Simon – expenses – was in the media (as are Mps) – culture of expenses there – funny that media broke news on Mps – where most expenses are fiddled..

Tips for Facebook page with little traffic – how to get? Start by personalising it. Difficult to relate to an organisation or a brand! EASIER TO RELATE TO A HUMAN BEING – get to know the people behind the labels, make it as interesting or vibrant as you can – lots of people afraid of online, etc. and start to get people into it – say to people – make this a great place then can invite friends to join… Difficulty of presenting the organisation – a persona that is not me… it’s not authentic, that’s why it’s not working. Gordon Brown – attacked for not being authentic enough – don’t spout jargon/policy, something that isn’t from you – and get seen through instantly! Decide to be you, or say it’s not for us…

What is the future of the internet?

GT: Dotspots – take advantage of people’s existing online uses, rather than taking them away elsewhere…

C: No one knows, but new generation coming through to whom all this is completely normal!

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…