Unless you have been living off-grid in a tent near to the Arctic Circle you will have been unable to avoid Donald Trump’s shock victory in the US presidential election. In truth, it has been wrap around coverage with output controlled by the media.
I had thought to myself, as I watched, read and listened to the story unfold, what is the message the media are trying to convey? What are they trying to say, how is that authoritative voice – the person looking straight down the camera and delivering to me – trying to spin this? What is that ‘cypher’ or reporter trying to impart to me in the newspapers and across the internet? Such is the power of the modern media.
This week I have the privileged position of being an Interfaith ambassador and feeding back on an event taking place in Kilmarnock. As well as reporting the event in text I will also be trusted with taking photographs of those attending (with permission of course). Don’t worry I am more than aware NOT to cut off the heads of participants – in the photographs not physically!
It is a great theme – Religion and the Media – and plenty for people to unpack in discussion groups. The event will take place at The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints at Whatriggs Road, Kilmarnock at 7pm on Tuesday, November 15, and the subject matter will lend itself to lively debate. A powerful, and often emotive, topic, I look forward to hearing and reporting on the views of participants.
It is an inspired choice and I am excited about covering this event as an Interfaith ambassador.
It is, also, a potentially controversial subject and there are many questions and points for discussion emerging.
In these digital times what exactly do we mean by ‘media’? How, perhaps, are different religions portrayed by the media. Are they, the various religions, for example, portrayed differently? Who is representative of the ‘media’, who speaks for the media and how do they conduct themselves in private and on social media? Where are religion(s) given time in the media schedules of the major TV companies, morning, afternoon, evening, never, and does this make a difference? How would religion(s) like to be represented via media outlets and does this differ from the usual output?
I am sure there will be other questions that people will seek to answer, but there should be no shortage of opinions and ideas centred on such a contemporaneous topic.
For me, there are a whole raft of interconnected questions regarding religion and the media and I am looking forward to hearing the views of those attending. I am sure such a fascinating topic will inspire some terrific discussion.
Equally it will be interesting to speak with attendees and discover how they felt about the event, the topic, the discussions they have been involved in, the people they have met.
As a member of Ayrshire Interfaith Forum I know that there will be a lot of very interesting, and intellectual, discussion taking place on Tuesday. Confident that fellow members will not be just attending for the coffee and cake!
I am, of course, a bit nervous about trying to present an accurate impression of the events that will take place in text and image. I will be that media ‘cypher’ and I take that responsibility seriously. Suffice to say I will do my best.
What I dread most is the doors to the event venue opening and a bearded backpacker appearing framed in the light of the doorway, the darkness behind him. Hurriedly smoothing his shock of unruly hair with a gloved hand as he enters.
‘Anyone know who won the US presidential election?’
‘Where have you been?’ one of our number might quip. ‘Off-grid in a tent out near the Arctic Circle?’