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[Image] Statue in Windsor Park where the conference was held

Religion and the News Conference, Windsor

11 October 09

 

Myself and Programme Director Linda Woodhead attended this conference, as did Phase 3 award holder Ewan Fernie. Presenters included The Times' religious correspondent Ruth Gledhill, the editor of The Guardian's Comment is Free Belief Andrew Brown and Dr Indargit Singh, Director of the Network of Sikh Organisations. You can access the official summary report from the conference here and listen to part of Ruth Gledhill's talk from here.

 

It was very interesting to learn about the differing (and perhaps conflicting) wants and needs of religious organisations and the media. Journalists need stories with personalities, conflict and/or something out of the ordinary immediately whereas religious groups want to communicate their distinct messages authentically. Nonetheless, we did hear some examples of the relationship working well.

 

As newspaper circulation declines and new media takeover with news and opinions available globally instantly, the relationship between religion and the news is also changing, with impacts upon perceptions within, between and outside of religious groups and this is thus an important development to monitor and discuss. News outlets should report religion stories responsibly and not misrepresent events. There was a call for academics to participate in online debates around their area of expertise in order to educate and counteract some of the more vitriolic and ill-informed comment that frequently appears.

 

Kim Knott's Phase 1 Large Grant 'Media portrayals of religion and the secular sacred' is starting to generate fascinating data on how the media portayal of religion in the UK has changed. Dr Jolyon Mitchell (Edinburgh) is on the Advisory Board for this project and also presented at the Cumberland Lodge conference.

 

Rebecca Catto (01/12/09)

 

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