Today we had a very good training session with an experienced broadcast journalist (who is also a Lay Reader) We covered lots of useful areas - from practical tips on doing TV and radio interviews to thinking slightly more generally about how and why we communicate as ministers of the Gospel.
I found the former more useful (probably becuase it was completely new) than the latter, and it was interesting to do a day like this with the Leveson Inquiry ongoing in the background. Many of us (curates in yrs 1 &2) confessed to a fear of having to deal with the press and being misrepresented by reporters, and in talking of wider issues, we repeatedly talked about "the media". For me, the main usefulness of the day was when I felt the need to deconstruct the term "the media". Our trainer, Debbie Thrower helped me to see "the media" as a collection of human beings trying to do a job, mostly to the best of their ability, rather than some inhuman beast to be feared. By dehumanising "the media" we give it a power to scare us, and in some ways limit the individual accountability of people working within it. I hope that the Leveson Inquiry will call individual journalists and editors to account for the human choices which they have made, and allow the rest of us all to see that journalists are people, as we all are, with the power to make good and bad choices, rather than being controlled by this media beast. As consumers of media, the wider public also make choices about the sort of newspapers and magazines we buy, and at times this is a half-forgotten inconvenient truth.
For those of us in the church who want to work with the local press to get our news stories out in our communities, and communicate the gospel, it may help us to remmeber that by and large "the media" is made up of people who want to tell stories and where our wish to tell a story can be harnessed to their wish to tell a story, good things can happen. For the church, good relationship with local media can be a blessing, and that will be helped if we can always remember the humanity of the journalists we encounter.