30 / 01 / 20
Phil Champain, Director of the Faith & Belief Forum
Today F&BF release a report on ‘Media, Faith and Belonging’ together with the Department of Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck. It is an important exploration of how ’traditional and social media play a crucial role in giving people from different faiths and beliefs a sense of belonging.’
Media outlets are more numerous and varied than they have ever been. They are more accessible to more of us. As our report points out, ‘the word ‘media’ is plural because it includes many different communication platforms’.
It is not surprising that studies have found rising negative attitudes toward religion (and particularly towards Muslims) as a result of negative and sensationalist media coverage. Media can be used to demonise and exclude. To tell a story about who does not belong.
I was reminded of the dangers of such narratives going unchecked when attending events that marked Holocaust Memorial Day earlier this week. For genocides to take place, the targeted groups must first be thoroughly dehumanised and seen completely as ‘other’. At its worst, media can be instrumentalised to justify the horrendous crimes we remembered this month.
But we have a choice. We can use our access to the media to break down fear rather than stoke it. To celebrate diversity rather than dehumanise. To engage rather than condemn. This is the responsibility of all of us, whether media professionals or not.
Social media has created new opportunities to tell engaging and nuanced stories about faith and belief groups to wider audiences. Let’s take advantage of these opportunities and be part of a story that makes everyone feel they belong – where ‘being’ meets ‘longing’.
Photo by Catholic Church England & Wales on Flickr.
31 / 01 / 20