Are we losing faith in the media?

That's an interesting and tantalisingly ambiguous question. Are we talking about the appearance of beliefs in an increasingly multi-platform world, the question of belief or otherwise in media values and performance, or some combination of the two?

It is undoubtedly the case that both faith organisations and media bodies have come in for a good deal of criticism of late, with what were once regarded as established and reliable public bodies being questioned over the misuse of power.

Equally, both some aspects of religion and the technology of media have changed shape and taken on new impetuses and characteristics in a fast moving, global order.

Yet faith, in particular, has to look back for its roots and around for its engagement, as well as forward for its frontiers. So there is a series of natural tensions to be observed.

A wide range of questions come into play on this topic. For example: With the modern culture of scepticism and constant searching for controversy and story-making, are the media portraying a true image of the different religions?

Similarly, what approaches should be adopted in order to present a balanced image of faith communities? How can the media shape both perceptions and the way in which religions are practised? ?

These are issues which Ekklesia has an ongoing stake in considering and contributing to. This evening (12th August 2013), Faith in the Media is also the title of a conversation (6pm - 7.30pm in the hall at St John's Church, £5) as part of Just Festival, of which we arec o-sponsors again this year.

The speakers in the event, which will be live-blogged and followed up, are Professor Jolyon Mitchell (University of Edinburgh, Centre for theology and public issues, a former journalist himself), Ephraim Borowski (Scottish Council of Jewish Communities), and Michael Brady Munnik (Alwaleed Centre, joint sponsors of the conversation). The chair is Seonag Mackinnon (an experienced journalist and head of media relations for the Church of Scotland).

Just Festival, also known simply as Just, runs from 2-26 August 2013. It is based at St John's Church (corner of Princes Street and Lothian Road) and some 27 other venues, and combines artistic and performance style events with conversations, talks, films exhibits and other ways of exploring how to live together creatively in a mixed-belief society.

* For more information on Just Festival, visit http://www.justjust.org and http://justfestivalnews.blogspot.com

* Ekklesia is a sponsor of Just Festival. Our news, reporting and comment is aggregated at: www.ekklesia.co.uk/justfestival

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© Simon Barrow is co-director of Ekklesia, a press officer for Just Festival, an experienced journalist and a contributor to Religion and the News (Ashgate, 2012).

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