Social Media officer for Christians in Media [closed]

This vacancy is now closed - thank you for your applications!

Social Media Officer for Christians in Media

Your overall purpose is to lead the Charity’s social media strategy, raising the profile of the Charity and who we have been assigned to reach, with particular focus on millennials. This typically involves managing an organisation's online presence by developing a strategy, producing good content, analysing usage data, facilitating customer service and managing projects and campaigns.

The Social Media Officer will work the equivalent of one day a week at an agreed daily rate of £250 per day.

The role will report to the Christians in Media Producer. Terms and conditions to be agreed.

Main Tasks and Responsibilities

  • develop a social media strategy and set goals to increase Charity awareness and increase engagement

  • manage all social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram

  • plan content and delivery and use tools like Hootsuite to manage multiple social media channels

  • develop and manage competitions and campaigns that promote the organisation and brand

  • create engaging multimedia content and/or outsource this effectively

  • form key relationships with millennial influencers across the social media platforms

  • monitor and report on performance on social media platforms using tools such as Google Analytics

Closing date 31st March 2019. Phone interviews by mid April, with the role to begin ideally in May 2019.

If you are interested in the role, please send a cover email and CV to holly@themedianet.org.

CIM Meets: BBC's Sally Bundock

This week we’re chatting with friend of Christians in Media, financial journalist and BBC World News presenter Sally Bundock, about her career, what challenges and fulfils her in her work, how she manages work-life balance and what she would say to a young person considering a life in media.

Last month at the World Economic Forum in Davos, about to go live on air on BBC World News

Last month at the World Economic Forum in Davos, about to go live on air on BBC World News

Sally, how did you first get into TV broadcasting?

I did my post-grad diploma in broadcast journalism, then spent a few years freelancing in London as a radio journalist. I got my first proper job with Bloomberg TV as a business news presenter, which was when things really started to take off. Once I was there, I ended up being headhunted by the BBC which is where you can find me now!

Which aspects of the job would you say are the most challenging?

Absolutely top of the list is the endless juggle - managing a hectic work schedule with being a widow and parents to three young children. Shift work plus kids means permanent lack of sleep!

There’s also a frustration, less so a challenge, to have to remain impartial at all times on every subject, especially on matters where you feel passionate about a particular view.

But some of the major challenges come from just the nature of working in a 24 hour news cycle; being live on air and not having the correct information, having to ad-lib around stories when you don’t have any information, keeping a programme on air when it all seems to be going a bit wrong technically! All of which happen and it’s just the nature of the job, it keeps you on your toes but it is a challenge.

Another challenge is about the online abuse and criticism you get sometimes get from viewers. It’s hard not to take that to heart, especially when you know you have worked incredibly hard to do your job well (and on very little sleep!).

Highlight of the job when you “have” to interview people like Matt Damon

Highlight of the job when you “have” to interview people like Matt Damon

On the flip side, what do you find the most fulfilling part of the job?

There’s a real high when you finish a programme and it’s gone really well. When we’ve had breaking news and we do a great job at covering the story and you know you’ve nailed it! It’s an indescribably satisfying feeling when you hear that government policy has changed, people’s lives have been changed because of what you have been reporting or because of your story telling.

You are on TV when most people are fast asleep or just waking, how do you cope with these early morning hours?

I wish there was a more interesting answer to this but in all honesty, I set my alarm and I get up! No big secret. I’m pretty disciplined about sleep, and 99% of the time I stick to the routine. If I don’t, my body will tell me as I’ll get migraines!

Me and my three boys celebrating my youngest’s 8th birthday

Me and my three boys celebrating my youngest’s 8th birthday

How do you manage family and work?

Again this is about a good routine, but also about being flexible as often as I can. I know when to ask for help if I need it, and I make sure my sons pull their own weight when it comes to school and the house.

I don’t worry, I don’t fear and I don’t go on a guilt trip when things go wrong (which they will inevitably do). God is more than enough and I trust Him with whatever is thrown at us. With Him, we’ll be okay. So it’s about taking every day as it comes!

What Does The Media Look Like in 2019?

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When historians write about the current decade what will they say? As it nears its end, it’s a question worth thinking about. Was it the time when finally the seriousness of climate change was recognised? The era when we began to wrestle with the epic proportions of abuse in many of our great institutions? The decade of the explosion of social media and AI? The time in which China assumed its role of global dominance? The era of decline, division and disaster in the former powerhouse of the global economy – the industrialised North.

These questions and more are incredibly difficult to answer without the benefit of hindsight.

Without the gift of prophecy, but with a panel of expert practitioners and theorists, last month Christians in Media attempted to answer a more manageable version of this question… “What will the media look like in 2019?”

Now an annual event, the futurecasting gathering attracted a good crowd in a central London venue to listen to the panel musing on trends in tech, the theology of human relationships in the digital era and how the ancient Good News might have something to say to a wider society which is fearful, overwrought and seeking direction.

The panel was chaired by James Poulter, an expert in social media, voice tech and AI. Fresh from an Alexa conference in Tennessee, James steered the panel through an hour’s worth of conversation which would have lasted much longer. Despite the fissiparous times in which we live, the room buzzed with excitement at the potential for Christian values of grace, truth and hope to infuse the media and, as a result, the rest of society in 2019 and beyond.

Setting the scene, Dr Sara Schumacher, an expert in theology and the arts at St Mellitus College, told the audience that she predicts younger generations will teach older generations how to use media well. Older generations will teach younger generations what it means to be human.

She touched on the idea that people are trying to find their own order in a disorderly world. Most notably, after Netflix aired Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, donations to charity shops doubled - proving that it touched a cord with audiences worldwide.

Picking up on the theme of disorder, Warren Nettleford – an experienced ITN journalist – said “The only known unknown is that we’ll have confusion but we’re not sure what that confusion will lead to.”

“As a journalist we have to be more responsible than ever before,” he continues. “People are looking for other forums and channels to get answers to what they want. There is a loss of trust in established media channels.”

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The multi award-winning Church of England digital team has overseen a spate of innovations in the past couple of years. Amaris Cole is a core part of the team and struck a positive note when telling the room how much progress was being made in the digital space by an institution with a reputation for more bucolic pursuits. Amaris said: “We’re focusing on faith in the home- families are using Alexa devices, we want to help parents to grow faith with their children.”

The Rev Dr Christopher Landau, a former BBC journalist, is part of a dynamic church in Oxford. From his vantage point working with students who have grown up as ‘digital natives’ his reflections were encouraging, stating that lo-fi social media and digital minimalism are among trends to look out for in 2019.

Brexit was never far from the minds of those present, with the uncertainty over what will happen regularly acknowledged as a cause of real anxiety. Yet the overwhelming tone of the panel wasn’t bleak – and maybe that’s what sets apart an event taking place within a Christian framework? Hope was never far from the lips of those asking questions or giving answers. Whether it’s the astonishing ways in which smart speakers now allow the transmission of prayers from an app to the family meal table or the profound way in which Christian theology gives a horizon beyond the backbiting and bile of politics in 2019.

Christians in Media exists for those who work in many fields of both secular and faith media. It has members in advertising, PR, broadcast, social, print, and many forms of digital. One of the things which unites these fields is the way they influence public opinion and mood. In a time of acute discomfort in the political process, the economy and the wider social environment, it’s vital Christians act as salt in the midst of their workplaces. Christians in media environments can often feel isolated which churches can be sceptical of those who work in secular media environments.

This event showed why it’s important Christians remain committed to truth and justice and creating excellent content for wide dissemination. It also showed that we may look back on 2019 as a year of positives as well as negatives.



What Does the Future Hold for Journalists in the Digital Age?

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In an era of social media and fake news, journalists who have survived the print plunge have new foes to face.

“We are, for the first time in modern history, facing the prospect of how societies would exist without reliable news,” Alan Rusbridger, for 20 years the editor-in-chief of the Guardian, recently warned.

Technology has radically altered the news landscape, he argues, and once-powerful newspapers have lost their clout or been purchased by owners with particular agendas. 

Algorithms select which stories we see. The internet allows consequential revelations, closely guarded secrets, and dangerous misinformation to spread at the speed of a click.

These sinister developments have dire implications for the future of democracy, Rusbridger argues in his book The Remaking of Journalism.

What is true here is also true in the US, the New Yorker’s Jill Lepore writes. 

She says that between January, 2017 and April, 2018 a third of America’s largest newspapers, including the Denver Post and the San Jose Mercury News, reported layoffs. 

In a newer trend, so did about a quarter of digital-native news sites. 

“BuzzFeed News laid off a hundred people in 2017; speculation is that BuzzFeed is trying to dump it. The Huffington Post paid most of its writers nothing for years, upping that recently to just above nothing,” she writes.

“And yet, despite taking in tens of millions of dollars in advertising revenue in 2018, it failed to turn a profit.”

The New Yorker quotes former New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson as saying that “there are not that many places left that do quality news well or even aim to do it at all”.

The local story, the magazine says, is worse and its exceptionally high mortality rate is now so well known that it has almost become old news.

Even so, the rate of decline of local papers in the US is still terrifying. Between 1970 and 2016, the year the American Society of News Editors quit counting, five hundred or so dailies went out of business; the rest cut news coverage, or shrank the paper’s size, or stopped producing a print edition, or did all of that, and it still wasn’t enough.

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“The numbers mask an uglier story. In the past half century, and especially in the past two decades, journalism itself—the way news is covered, reported, written, and edited—has changed, including in ways that have made possible the rise of fake news, and not only because of mergers and acquisitions, and corporate ownership, and job losses, and Google Search and Facebook and BuzzFeed,” Lepore says in the New Yorker article.

“There’s no shortage of amazing journalists at work, clear-eyed and courageous, broad-minded and brilliant, and no end of fascinating innovation in matters of form, especially in visual storytelling. 

“But journalism, as a field, is as addled as an addict, gaunt, wasted, and twitchy, its pockets as empty as its nights are sleepless. It’s faster than it used to be, so fast. It’s also edgier, and needier, and angrier.” 

But don’t sink too much into a pit of despair, The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade argues, because the trade is not completely dead yet.

“The optimists fall into two categories,” he writes. “The Micawbers who believe it will come right in the end, as if by magic; and the Googlers who have adopted the digital revolution’s mantra, innovate or die.”

Greenslade argues that a new breed of entrepreneur has emerged who believe that it’s possible to not only to persuade readers to pay for access to newspaper and magazine content but also persuade advertisers to pay a sensible amount for their ads by providing them with proof that the ads have been read and understood.

One of the entrepreneurs quoted in Greenslade’s article is Rowly Bourne, co-founder of a startup called Rezonence.

Bourne argues that publishers are making as little as 50p per reader per year from digital. As a response to this, many of them have erected paywalls which restricts access to journalistic material. Moreover, readers who do pay for access are irritated by the number of ads that intrude on their reading experience.

“I believe there is a better way,” Bourne says. “Instead of a paywall, we call it a freewall. It’s a simple cost-per-engagement mechanism in which readers are presented with a single advertisement. In order to read the full article, they are required to answer a relatively simple question below the ad. This proves to the advertiser that the readers have paid attention to their brand.”

According to his company’s own estimates, freewall access to a site by, say, 10 million users would produce more than £10 per reader. By contrast, it is doubtful if paywalls produce 60p per reader.

Another entrepreneur, Dominic Young, founder of a startup called Agate, believes that circulation revenue could provide the answer to journalism’s woes.. He has developed a method aimed at encouraging readers to make payments into an online wallet. They pre-pay an amount into the wallet, which gives them access to a range of outlets, and the price of each article is deducted by the publisher. Each site can charge as much or as little as it thinks appropriate. When the wallet is empty, the reader can top it up.

“Meanwhile, as every online Guardian reader knows,” concludes Greenslade, “the paper has enjoyed success by asking readers for voluntary contributions. More than 1 million people worldwide have made a donation over the past three years, with 500,000 of them paying on a regular basis.

“No one can be certain which of these funding models will work in the long term and, incidentally, they are not mutually exclusive. But they should give journalists hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel we’ve been walking down for the last 20 years or so.”

So it could just be that rumours of the death of the industry are exaggerated…

Alastair Tancred, Christians in Media Editor

CIM Meets: ITN’s Warren Nettleford

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We were absolutely thrilled to have ITN reporter and presenter Warren Nettleford join us for our annual trends forecasting event last month, talking us through his views on the year ahead and what we can expect as fellow media folk.

We sat down with him to find out more about his background, how he copes with the stresses of the industry, advice for young journalists and more.

How did you begin your career in journalism?

I guess it all started whilst studying. I read history and politics at Lancaster University and whilst there I wrote for SCAN, the student paper. It was great. I was heavily involved in student politics as I became President of my College, and after that I was President of the University Students Union.  

 I enjoyed writing and standing up for people.  So after that I became a researcher working on a number of political and social documentaries. I learnt a lot and got to travel across Europe and the US too, but I always wanted to be a reporter.  I was fortunate to gain a place to study for my postgraduate diploma in journalism at City University in London and then I became a Channel 4 News trainee.  

What were the biggest obstacles to developing your career?

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It’s a very competitive environment and I guess looking back maybe I was a bit cocky!  In time I came to know the importance of taking good advice, speaking to the right people and working hard. I’m still learning though…all the time.

How did you become a Christian?

 I was fortunate enough to be brought up in a Christian home. For most of my life my parents went to two different church denominations – so two different services on a Sunday! With hindsight It was useful to see that it’s possible to have unity in belief but with diversity of expression.  My parents never forced me to go to church or baptised me as a child, and so in my 20s I made a personal commitment myself after investigating who Jesus was and finding out if what he said was true. Baptism followed after that.  I now attend an Anglican church in South London.

Do you find it a challenge to juggle your faith alongside the demands of a busy newsroom?

I can’t say that I find it difficult, but I’m sure like for many people the responsibility of knowing what your values mean influences how you interact with others. If it didn’t what would the point of being a Christian?  We could just carry on as before… 1 Corinthians 15: 32 is useful here, - “...If the dead are not raised let us eat and drink and for tomorrow we die...” -although I’d love to find out if Paul did literally fight with wild beasts in Ephesus as he mentions in the line before. I do my best not to work on Sundays too.

How did you come to hear about Christians in Media?

An old University friend mentioned Christians in Media to me and it lead to me coming along to the annual conference.

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What is the most exhilarating/exciting story/feature you have covered?

 I’ve worked on a few general election campaigns now. The way things are going they’ll probably be another one soon...  As a reporter I get to travel around the country and get a sense as to what’s happening and what people think. That all seems heightened with general election campaigns and I love the buzz of the shifting political sands and also the moments which can swing campaigns. I do like being up on election night and being there when historic events are unfolding.

Is your work very stressful? If so, what are your coping mechanisms?

I try to relax by exercising at the gym, reading, going to the cinema and playing football too. The holy answer of course is to say prayer. I do pray, but of course I, and I'm sure like many reading this, should pray a lot more.  

What is your preferred form of social media and why?

Professionally I use Twitter a lot to keep track of developing news stories and also to see the latest comments by decision makers, leaders and other journalists. Being able to see stories develop so quickly is a really valuable tool, especially if you’re out on the road reporting.

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Do you know what you’d like to do in the long term?

As well as news reporting and presenting I also run my own production company – Right Thing Films.  We’re currently developing documentary and film ideas that tell important and transformative stories we think people should know about.  It would be good to do work on some big projects whilst developing new young talent too.

Do you think news outlets give Christianity a fair hearing?

It depends what you mean. As a broadcaster who maintains impartiality I have a responsibility to do that whilst reporting and I think British Television news does this on the whole fairly well.  Perhaps now though because Christianity in Britain is losing it’s place as the default moral compass, in favour of a more secular world view, there’s a sense that Christianity in the UK is having to find its footing, or even, having to develop the tools required to compete whilst maintaining  authentic values in a more pluralistic society. I saw a Tim Keller lecture at Parliament last year where he argued that Christianity should always try and be salt to the world.  Because there are now so many more media outlets through social media which Christianity can speak through arguably there’s never been a better time for anyone to get a ‘fairer hearing’. Maybe Christianity should be more confident.  

What is your advice to young people wanting to follow you into a career in journalism?

Work hard, don’t ever think that you’re solely responsible for any success that comes your way, and pray for good fortune and guidance! If you fail along the way, you’ll learn from it. I have. 

Why not light a candle rather than curse the darkness?

First and foremost a very happy New Year to you all!

To kick off the new year, I bring you this message originally written by the Archbishop of York John Sentamu for the i newspaper:

This new year, why not light a candle rather than curse the darkness?

You may not have heard of Lou Xiaoying.  One of the poorest of Chinese poor, she eked out a living by recycling rubbish.  Among the garbage she raked over, it was commonplace to find babies, often deserted as a result of the government’s one-child-per-family policy.  Xiaoying rescued 30 of them, nurturing them in her own home until they were well enough to be cared for by family and friends.  She and her husband raised four themselves.  

She said, “The whole thing started when I found the first baby, a little girl back in 1972, when I was out collecting rubbish. She was just lying amongst the junk on the street, abandoned. She would have died had we not rescued her and taken her in. Watching her grow and become stronger gave us such happiness and I realised I had a real love of caring for children. These children need love and care. They are all precious human lives. I do not understand how people can leave such a vulnerable baby on the streets.”

Xiaoying’s story eventually became public via the internet; an exemplar of how one unknown and seemingly powerless individual can work wonders.

As Mother Teresa said, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” 

Another little known heroine from the past was Octavia Hill, whose work in the Victorian era helped shape Britain today.  Shaken by London’s poverty, she pioneered social housing, campaigned for the preservation of green spaces and co-founded the National Trust, among many other projects. Numerous individuals have made a difference against the odds.  In the face of fierce opposition, William Wilberforce campaigned to end slavery, among many other causes.  Marie Curie was a lone Polish scientist who developed the practical use of X-rays, despite the prejudice in her day against women scientists. A man who used his entrepreneurial ability to benefit humanity was Nicholas Winton. On the eve of World War II he organised the rescue of 669 mainly Jewish children from Czechoslovakia, finding them homes here and organising Kinder transport for their journey.  It took 50 years for his work to become widely known. 

Nelson Mandela endured 27 years in jail for his opposition to apartheid, then forgave his enemies when he was released, avoiding a bloodbath.  Then there’s my mentor, Janani Luwum, whose statue stands on the West wall of Westminster Abbey.  As Archbishop of Uganda, he protested against President Amin’s violent rule and was murdered.  He had said, “I am prepared to die in the army of Jesus”.  

Many of these did what they did, not because they expected fame or even success, but because they believed it to be right, little knowing the impact they were going to have then, and on subsequent generations.

When things are dire, remember the proverb, “It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”.

Standing above the rest of humanity is another figure, about whom these words were written,

“He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant. He grew up in another village, where he worked in a carpenter shop until he was 30. Then, for three years, he was an itinerant preacher.

He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a home. He didn't go to college. He never lived in a big city. He never travelled 200 miles from the place where he was born. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but himself.

He was only 33 when the tide of public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied him. He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his garments, the only property he had on earth. When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave, through the pity of a friend.

Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race. I am well within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned--put together--have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that one, solitary life.” 

(Attributed to James Allan Francis)

The astounding Christian story began with God pitching his fleshly-tent in the world we thought was ours, via a baby dependent for his very survival on others. Later he called for allegiance from the entire human race.  His claims were paramount, life-changing and are now as urgent as ever.  So take courage my friend, and light that candle.  You can do it. 

Why We Should Look at Isaiah the Prophet this Christmas

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In the run up to Christmas we Christians traditionally lament the triumph of materialism over the triumphant entry of our Saviour into this world.

The Bible as we all know has a lot to say about Christ’s birth - perhaps some of the most famous appearing in the Old Testament book of Isaiah.

The book, written by Isaiah son of Amoz (1:1) should be especially loved by those work in the media because of the sheer beauty of its language and its stirring predictions – 700 years before Christ’s birth – of His entry into the world.

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory. (6:3)

Therefore the Lord himself will give you[a] a sign: The virgin[b] will conceive and give birth to a son, and[c] will call him Immanuel. (7:14)

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. ((9:6)

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all. (53;6)

Like most prophets, Isaiah announced the bad news of punishment for sin. But he also described a coming Messiah who would be “wounded for our transgressions… bruised for our iniquities… and with his stripes we are healed (53:5)

Called to the ministry through a stunning vision of God in heaven, Isaiah wrote a book that some have called the “fifth gospel” for its predictions of the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ some 700 years later.

The prophecies of redemption offset some of Isaiah’s more depressing promises of God’s discipline against Judah and Jerusalem, which were overrun by Babylonian armies about a century later.

Isaiah’s prophecy ends with a long section (chapters 40-66) describing God’s restoration of Israel, His promised salvation and His eternal kingdom.

Early in His ministry, Jesus said that he fulfilled the prophecies of Isaiah. “The Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord (61:1-2)

The purpose of the book of Isaiah is to demonstrate the trustworthiness of the Lord. The first king whom Isaiah serves, Ahaz, did not trust the Lord. He ignored Isaiah’s advice and followed his own schemes.

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This led to defeat and servitude at the hands of the Assyrians. Ahaz’s son Hezekiah, in contrast, trusted the Lord and Jerusalem was delivered from Sennacherib and the Assyrians. In the second half of the book the exiles were also encouraged to trust the Lord to bring deliverance and to respond like Hezekiah, not like Ahaz.

A significant theme is the hope in a future ideal Davidic king. The book provides a template for Messianic expectation as it develops a profile of God’s plan, including the exaltation of Jerusalem (see Isa 2), the coming child who is to reign (see Isa 9), peace and stability of the reign of the Davidic heir (see Isa 11), and how the ideal Servant of the Lord will carry out God’s mission (see Isa 42–53).

That much is fairly well known about Isaiah, but there are other less well known – but no less interesting things – about him:

  • He had two children with strange prophetic names. Shear-jashub (7:3) means “a remnant shall return” and Maher-shalal-hash-baz (8:3) means “haste to the spoil”.

  • Shear-jashub’s name carried God’s promise that Jews would one-day return home.

  • Maher-shalal-hash-baz’s name assured the king of Judah that his country’s enemies would be dealt with by Assyrian armies.

This Christmas, as we relax with our families, it’s worth thinking about Isaiah and his prophecies as an antidote to the materialism of the age.

Alastair Tancred, Editor for Christians in Media


Church and Media Conference 2018: A Reflection

Our Editor Alastair Tancred describes his day at the Christians in Media annual conference.

The wonderfully well-lit and spacious venue of St Mary’s in London – a church which justifiably prides itself in being free of religion but not Christianity– was the space for this year’s conference.

It was an eventful day from the outset. Arriving guests and delegates received a comprehensive welcome pack which included news that we have been re-Christened with a new and much more appropriate name – Christians in Media.

No sooner had we digested this – along with the delicious biscuits that accompanied our morning coffee – than our ultra-capable Mistress of Ceremonies brought proceedings to a start. Author Vicky Walker kept us on track and on time throughout the day.

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Interview by Chine McDonald with June Sarpong MBE:

Theme: Broadcaster and author June cogently discussed this year’s conference theme – change, diversity and minority voices.

Memorable quotes: [Discussing famous people she had interviewed during her career, including George Clooney and Tony Blair]: “My favourite has to be Will Smith. He’s everything you expect him to be.”

[Speaking of her quandary as to whether she would pursue a career in journalism]: “My mind said follow your dreams.”

[Speaking of getting an MBE]: “It really mattered when I got the MBE. There is not enough representation in a positive light of black people in the media.”

[Speaking about social media]: “Now you can find your audience even if you do not know anyone.”

[Talking about overcoming discrimination in the workplace]: “In the US you cannot be a big company without having a person of colour in a senior position, which explains why a lot of people have moved there. British business and industry is beginning to catch up… Brexit gives us an opportunity to tap into unused talent.”

[Speaking about her Christianity]: “Faith is a big part of my life – I pray every day… I was hit by a car when I was 14 and only got through it by prayer and meditation. It was the beginning of my relationship with God.”

“Christians are seen as weirdos in Britain – we have got to rebrand our faith and make sure we are more open and welcoming… there are so many people in this country who need Christianity.”

Alastair’s comments: June had a wonderfully gentle way of expressing herself. She described her struggle to break into broadcast journalism with no self-pity even though she had to overcome seemingly insuperable obstacles to break into what was then – and some would argue still is – an overwhelmingly male and pale industry. She also movingly described how she overcame her own doubts – and those of her family – about her career choice. She said those reservations were so strong she even had a name for them – “impostor syndrome”.

Breakout Sessions: Ministry of Comms Workshop with Vineyard Director of Communications Mark Crosby

Theme: There are thousands of people in our cities who are unaware that God has a better plan for them. We can make sure they are better informed by using the tools at our disposal more effectively to communicate with them.

Memorable quotes: “Prayerful planning prevents poor performance.”

“Every time you communicate, you are asking people to take one more step into an adventure of God’s making.”

“Millennials are seeking authenticity – someone who can articulate ‘this is who we are’.”

“Always try to use language so as to make quite clear what you mean – make sure your sentences could not mean anything else.”

[When using social media as a means of communication]: What is the message you are trying to convey? Who does it need to reach? Where can you find them? When is it best to say it?

“People forget data information but stories stay with us for a long time.”

Alastair’s comments: Mark is a master of his trade who obviously has a heart to reach out to the poor and dispossessed. In Jesus’ time we were encouraged to proclaim our message from the rooftops, but today we have to think how the same objective can be achieved through well-devised media strategies and social media.  

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Panel Discussion: What Does God Look Like On TV?

Theme: With the BBC announcing a “Year of Beliefs” in 2019 comprising specialist programming and documentaries about faith and religion, the panel discussed how this would affect the representation of faith in the mainstream media. Participants in the debate chaired by the Rev Kate Bottley included Songs of Praise Producer Mark Warburton, ‘More Tea Vicar? Author the Rev Bryony Taylor and BBC Project Director Mark Friend.

Memorable quotes: Mark Friend stressed that broadcasters must strive to appeal to a wider group of people when it comes to faith issues “a broader audience” was needed to be attracted by “new creativity”.

Bryony Taylor argued that it was good that faith issues were cropping up more in everyday TV – including numerous dramas that had featured vicars in various guises – because there was a level of public indifference and ignorance about Christianity.  She described wearing a dog collar in a supermarket queue and being asked by the checkout woman how long she had been a nun.

Mark Warburton said that some people watch Songs of Praise – which often has a bigger audience than the total number of people who go to church – on Sundays before they themselves going to church. “But I prefer people who do not go to church [to watch the programme] than those who do.” He said that social media and digital are playing a key role – if you can do social media well, you can experiment with new kinds of content.

Alastair’s comments: The three expert panelists were in a way all singing from the same hymn sheet. Faith broadcasting is a challenge in the 21st century and no one should be under any illusions as to how hard it is to retain and attract new audiences. The fate of the BBC’s Something Understood programme is testament to that.

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Panel Discussion: Future-proof

Theme: Our panel of experts explored what next year will bring for new technology in the media in a discussion chaired by Christians in Media’s James Poulter. Those on the stage were the Church of England’s digital supremo Adrian Harris, the Rev Liz Clutterbuck and the BBC’s head of Voice Mukul Dewichand.

Memorable quotes: Adrian Harris pointed out that the Church of England has now gone truly digital, and new technology was the bedrock of its evangelism, discipleship and common good campaigns.  He said a key objective now is to reach out to irregular church goers through new technology, pointing out that 40 percent of households in the UK next year will own a smart speaker. He said there now tremendous opportunities “to use digital [technology] to bring people into a relationship with God”.

Liz Clutterbuck said that a key decision recently was the decision by the Church of England to launch a Common Prayer daily worship app. She said this was so significant because it makes accessible something that previously “was only available in a lonely church”. Now anyone who wants to can have access to daily prayer, with the Alexa speaker even on hand to say The Lord’s Prayer or Grace ahead of meals.  But she cautioned that “Alexa cannot administer Holy Communion, because the sacraments cannot be downloaded to a device”.

Mukul Devichand said that the BBC was testing a number of different types of new technology, especially in relation to smart speakers and the kind of ways they can respond to the queries of children. He said that the future lies in algorithmic and personalised content. He said that we in the media are now entering an era where things are getting much more sophisticated. But we are still awaiting what he described as as “a killer app in voice” that will dominate the market.

Alastair’s comments: Adrian Harris could not have put it more eloquently. Christianity is never more relevant than it is today and if we are to proclaim our faith successfully we must use devices like Alexa and other forms of Artificial Intelligence to bring people into our community.

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Breakout Session: The basics of Filmmaking with Susie Atwood

Theme: In an hour Susie went through a beginners’ guide to taking better video – either with an iPhone or with a more sophisticated camera.

Memorable quotes: “Think about whether you’re going to film in landscape or portrait. Are you going to use a tripod? Remember that sound is almost as important as the video and not to leave too much headroom as you frame your picture. Simple is best.”

Alastair’s comments: It’s no easy task teaching people the basics of film-making in an hour – the BBC take several days to do it. But Suzie made an exceptional effort, skilfully reminding her audience that before they even start they must figure out what is the purpose of their film, who is it for, how long should it be, what is the desired outcome and best approach?  

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Panel Discussion: Glass Ceilings And Pay Gaps - What Changed And What Still Needs To Change For Women In Media?

Theme: An assessment into what challenges women in the media have faced and what obstacles still confront them in 2019. The panel was chaired by WTalk founder Tobi Olujinmi and comprised the Rev Sally Hitchiner, The Telegraph’s Lucy Denyer, Prof Tina Beattie and journalist Tobi Credein.  

Memorable quotes: Sally Hitchiner [Talking about the success of Love Island]: “We love to see beautiful people and deconstruct them to our own lives to see if it could fit. We are people scratchers… Celebrities sell products that have a longer shelf life than they do.”

Tobi Oredein pointed out that we live in a “Kardashian era” where traditional ideas of married people being loyal, romantic and intimate with another are fast becoming outdated. She called for positive discrimination to assist people of colour in the workplace.

Lucy Denyer – a mother of three - pointed out that a key reason for the gender pay gap related to women who lose out because of child bearing. But she said things were changing, and that in 10 years’ time young mothers would find the work place to be more accommodating than it is now.

Tina Beattie: “The gender and pay gap is unjust, but more unjust is the sight of obscenely rich and overpaid people on our streets and the huge economic injustices that exist in our society.”

Alastair’s comments: It was sobering for me as a middle aged, middle class white man to hear of the struggles these admirable women have overcome to get to where they are today. We men have not made it particularly easy for women of any background or class to work in the media, yet at no point did this formidably talented panel remind us that we should repent for past misdeeds.

Special Screening of The Wait By Susie Atwood

Theme: Susie’s documentary The Wait follows the lives of Syrian Christians who escaped oppression in their homeland to take refuge in Lebanon.

Alastair’s comments: Susie’s film superbly captures the tension among the refugees as they nervously wait to find out if their visa applications to seek a new life abroad have been accepted.

We loved seeing you at this year’s conference, and we’d love to hear your thoughts on our sessions in the comments below!