30 / 01 / 20
A new report by the Faith & Belief Forum and the Department of Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck calls on media organisations to provide more opportunities for religious groups to represent themselves.
The briefing paper, ‘Media, Faith and Belonging’, draws on insights from a roundtable event at Birkbeck which brought together academics, policy experts and local organisations. The report finds that inaccurate, sensationalised and simplistic media coverage reinforces negative stereotypes of religious groups, increasing the potential for suspicion, fear and communal violence. Media coverage of religion has an impact on hate crime, with spikes in hate crime often accompanying negative media stories about religious groups.
The report offers several recommendations to address these issues. Some key findings are:
The report highlights how journalists, academics, community organisations and religious groups are working to address the issues in three ways: by challenging inaccurate stories, telling their own stories and working together to make a shared story. In this space, social media has created new opportunities to tell complex stories to wider audiences.
The report authors say: “When the media reinforces a message that certain people do not belong, this stokes suspicion and encourages division between people of different faiths and beliefs. Working together, we can ensure that our media more accurately reflects the reality of the everyday lives of religious people, challenges negative and inaccurate stereotypes, promotes curiosity and builds empathy and connection.”
‘Media, Faith and Belonging’ is the third and final in a series of reports supported by a grant from Dangoor Education which look at different aspects of belief and belonging. The full report can be downloaded from the Faith & Belief Forum’s website.
Download the report: https://faithbeliefforum.org/report
For more information:
Phone: 0207 482 9535
Notes for editors
‘Media, Faith and Belonging’ was written by Jonathan D Smith, Lenita Törning, Ben Gidley and Ruth Sheldon, in a collaboration between the Faith & Belief Forum and the Department of Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck, University of London. The report draws on insights from a roundtable discussion with the same title. It is one of three such roundtables hosted by the Faith & Belief Forum and the Department of Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck.
Presenters at the roundtable and respondents who are mentioned in the paper include:
The Faith & Belief Forum has worked for over 20 years to build good relations between people of all faiths and beliefs, and to create a society where difference is celebrated. The organization creates spaces in schools, universities, workplaces and the wider community where people can engage with questions of belief and identity and meet people different from themselves. For more information, see https://faithbeliefforum.org
The Department of Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck, University of London (BDPS) was founded in 2000 and aims to investigate a wide range of contemporary social, political and personal concerns. The Department is unique in its interdisciplinary focus and draws together academics and clinicians from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds to think together about the relation between social and psychic life. For more information, see http://www.bbk.ac.uk/psychosocial/about-us.
Briefings on Faith, Belief and Belonging are supported by a grant from Dangoor Education (http://dangooreducation.com).