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Thursday, 1 March 2007

Media Via Media? - (c) 1 Mar2007

How items get on the General Synod Agenda: Part 17

(Actually I haven't listed 16 other before, but...) one way is for a parish motion to be raised through the Deanery Synod, to the Diocesan Synod, and then sent on up to the General Synod. Today's motion was a good example of that. And also of some of the draw-backs.

Sometimes someone has a good idea in a parish, but they may not always be the best at crafting a motion, and so there is a chance that as the motion then makes progress through the stages, it can be honed in to shape. Hopefully. Or occasionally, a motion may be dumbed down, or changed quite radically, on it's journey.

One of the other randomising factors, is that it is rare that the original parish motion is made by a General Synod member, so on its journey up, it has to be 'fronted' by someone else.

This original motion came, I understand, from a retired priest in a parish, so by the time it got to General Synod, it was one of Synod's youngest clergy members, still in his 20s, that drew the short straw to present it.

Actually, for a motion all to do with the Media Standards, getting a youngster from the media generation to present it was inspired - and as someone else in the Synod rightly said about Richard "Didn't 'e do well!"

The Church often appears carping about the Media, and the original motion here, did come over as a bit negative, and possibly blaming. But it was asking that research be done about the effects of the media.

Once again, the House of Bishops had had their fingers on a motion first - and I think with many god points here. The lead was given by the Bishop of Manchester, whose brief normally includes broadcasting and the media anyway.

The original motion asked for Government to instigate an enquiry - but that was probably not the right body to be petitioning anyway. Again, having people in Synod like the previous president of the British Board of Film Classification, and a number of professional broadcasters, adds enormously to the quality of debate.

A number of further amendments were added, making I feel quite a helpful motion. One or two commented that they felt the motion had lost a lot of its bite, and wasn't making a clear enough point to media content producers.

But as quite a media watcher myself, and one of those who had attended the 'meet the press' - well tv producers really - fringe meeting the day before, I am certainly of the opinion that

  • it is not possible to reign in the media in this YouTube and internet generation anyway
  • it is more helpful to try to affect change by positive involvement from within
  • many media content producers have added many positive moral dimensions recently
  • statistically, hours 'religious programming' is not falling significantly
  • the quality & content of religious programming is currently better than it has been for years
So, I am all for encouraging what is good in the media, that God's light may indeed shine through.

Alastair GS101

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