Speakers at the CMN conference 2014

Media storytelling and people not like us – the Church & Media Conference 2015

A look at the conference theme, from Church and Media Network trustee, Chine Mbubegbu.

It’s a truth universally known that storytelling needs the baddies and the goodies to be clearly identified.

But it seems that far too often in media narratives, whole groups of society are deemed ‘goodies’ or ‘baddies’ based on generalisation and stereotype: undeserving benefit cheats, Islamic terrorists, black gangs. Last week’s tragedy in Charleston once again showed the disparity between how we label people who commit mass atrocities: if they’re Muslim, they’re terrorists; if they’re white, they’re crazy.

If they look like ‘us’, we distance ourselves from them. If they look like ‘foreigners’, we consider invading countries in revenge. As Jon Stewart so beautifully put it in his Daily Show monologue a few days ago – the demonization of some groups and sanctification of others is quite simply ‘black and white’. There’s ‘them’ and then there’s ‘us’. We are the goodies and they out there are the baddies.

As media people, we’re interested in narratives; and we bear a sense of responsibility in this area. Because often it’s because of our presentation of groups of society that some are stereotyped negatively. How do we decide who is and isn’t like us? And do we have a choice in how we portray people?

These are the kinds of topics we will be discussing at the 39th Church & Media Conference, taking place on Tuesday, 13 October, at the Royal Society of the Arts in central London.

As a trustee of the Church & Media Network and part of the planning team for the event, I can’t wait for this year’s conference. This is a conversation that needs to be had. If you’re a Christian working in journalism, PR, social media or related professions or just someone interested in faith and religion reporting, this will be the place to be.

The Church and Media Network meets each autumn for a day that gathers together key people in the media to reflect on the way in which faith and the media interact. Last year we met at BAFTA and our speakers included the new BBC Religious Affairs correspondent, Caroline Wyatt; pop-star turned priest and broadcaster Rev Richard Coles and YouTube’s dancing vicar, now Gogglebox star, Kate Bottley.

Be the first to hear programme details and find out when tickets go on sale, by signing up here.

Paul Arnold
  • Look forward to it!