Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Media messengers

Michael Wakelin with the President (above)

The Vice-President with Moira Sleight (below)

The Church has not always had an easy relationship with the media so it was good to be able to visit two of its expressions during January.

We visited the Methodist Recorder at its offices in Golden Lane London and were pleased to meet some of the staff and see how the paper is put together.

We heard from Moira Sleight, the editor, about the pressures of running a small business in a difficult market. If only our stationing system was more like the Anglicans who pay large amounts in advertising to a certain other paper! If only Methodists were not such sharing people - 100,000 read the Recorder but only a fifth of these actually buy it!

It remains the only organ which regularly shares Methodist news in this country and, just as I recognise it is an independent publication, we as individual Methodists do need to support it.

Later in the month we were invited to the BBC Religion and Ethics Department in Manchester. This is headed by Michael Wakelin a Methodist local preacher and brother of Mark, our new Head of Internal Relationships.

We were accompanied by Anna Drew and Karen Burke from our Methodist Media office (doing a good job just now!) and Keith Davies the local District Chair.

It was a great opportunity to hear from those involved in Songs of Praise, the Daily Service, the Sunday programme and others and to learn about some new programmes - Around the World in 80 Faiths which is showing at the moment and a new History of Christianity which is on the way.

We expressed our admiration for the quality of the programmes produced by the BBC - and also our concern at the relative lack of TV coverage of religious and ethical issues compared with radio. The BBC Religion and Ethics website is excellent.

All those who work in the media - particularly the religious press and broadcsating - are proper objects of our prayers and we hope that we were able to give tangible expression to that in our visits.


Mrs N. Biggs said...

No wonder a book on Donald Soper has just been published with the title "The Last Wesleyan", I regularly think we must be an extinct species. "You're a Methodist?" said my hairdresser,a thoroughly decent girl, "Is that a Christian?" Who could blame her for not knowing.
When recently did the Methodist Church have a voice in the national media on any important subject? Where is our spokesperson - obviously hiding his light under a bushel!
Forget your initiatives for making a church anything but a church. Show you stand for something and maybe people will recognise your relevance again.

63 year old - lifelong Methodist

Toby Scott said...

Mrs Biggs: we are always delighted to help. You ask "When recently did the Methodist Church have a voice in the national media on any important subject?" We reply with a small sample of recent stories:


http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5jdtYS0WFlmh-n-Brqd8vkNlN6VKg (Gambling)


http://www.iht.com/articles/2009/01/07/europe/07london.php (Atheist bus)


We have also done a range of broadcast media in recent weeks on the atheist bus campaign including the World Service, and received a request for a further interview on this just yesterday. We have also had people on BBC News 24 talking about gambling, and good coverage in other media for a number of other stories such as the credit crunch, Zimbabwe and North Korea.

I hope this helps: I am sorry we have not been able to do more.


Toby Scott said...

I hate to go on about this, but we're in today's Times...


greyareas said...

I need to question the idea that The Methodist Recorder is "the only organ which regularly shares Methodist news in this country". Arguably it is the only independent UK-wide publication (and that independence is a vital, often-envied, component of its ethos and style). However, there are other publications that are also tasked to share Methodist news. Some of these are based on the Methodist Church website (e.g. The Buzz; e-news); others are available on the web and in print, such as Momentum (which I edit - so I declare an interest!). Methodist news and activity is shared in a wide variety of ways. Would it be good to bring us all together, perhaps, to share our experiences?

Laurence Wareing

Mrs N. Biggs said...

Thank you for your response. I am pleased that you appear to have a toehold in the media, at least within a narrow field. However, it is not only the frequency or otherwise of sound-bites, that troubles me, it is the quality and immediacy of what we as a Church say. The public at large are by nature, critical and sceptical. We need spokespersons who have that subtle mix of intellect and humanity that touches people. I have been privileged to listen to such people – not all of them in the Methodist Church, or even calling themselves believers. Find such people and you might make an impact.

Mrs N.Biggs