While some newspaper publishers are putting their faith in ‘digital first”, worshippers are being urged to pray for the future of the press.
Amid an industry ravaged by circulation decline, cost-cutting and redundancies, Sunday 20 May has been designated a day of prayer for the media by the Church and Media Network.
A specially commissioned prayer thanks journalists for their “persistence in seeking after truth’and asks for them to “reach for the highest professional standards, especially when budgets are stretched, time is tight, and competition increasing”.
The prayer was written by Peter Crumpler, the former director of communications for the Church of England’s Archbishops’ Council who has worked with the church and media for almost 40 years.
He said: ‘The British media is under the spotlight as never before. Illegal practices by some journalists have combined with tough economic times and pressures from new technology to make these challenging times for everyone working in the media”.
Writing a guest blog for the Sanctuary Centre, Crumpler said journalists were feeling ‘pretty unloved just now’but added that as a Christian he wanted to ‘affirm the media’s vital role in our society – giving a voice for the voiceless, keeping the powerful to account, highlighting unjust practices, calling for justice, and keeping people informed”.
‘They bring us strong opinions to challenge our own, and stories to entertain us,’he said.
Crumpler, who left his role at the Archbishops’ Council last September to train for ordination as a priest, said working in the media was an ‘honourable profession’and one that ‘I’d love many more Christians to consider their calling”.
‘I want to see a thriving media – from national newspapers to community radio, from websites with massive global reach to specialist publications, from TV networks to local blogs and engaging Twitter streams – plus much besides,’he continued.
Crumpler trained as a journalist and worked in local government public relations before joining British Gas in 1981, later becoming head of communications for BG Group and then head of external affairs.
As well as praying for the press, worshippers were told that one of the best ways to “affirm the importance of the media” was to engage with them regularly by supporting their campaigns and helping to raise funds for charities they are backing.
‘Churches are communities of believers rooted in local areas,’he said. ‘So the local and regional media matter to us – they are vital parts of our communities, and help to hold those communities together.
‘In difficult economic and social times, we need a strong and courageous international, national and local media, working to the highest ethical standards.
‘We need to play our part in ensuring that we have a thriving media, committed to truth, and in affirming – and challenging – those who work within it.”
Here is Crumpler’s ‘A prayer for the media’:
God who spoke the world into being and communicates with us still today; We give you thanks for writers, producers, broadcasters and journalists, and all who work in the media.
We thank you for their creative skills and technical abilities, and their persistence in seeking after truth.
We ask that they may have wisdom, integrity, insight and judgement in their work.
May they be a voice for the powerless, a challenge to the powerful; bringers of knowledge and clarity to an uncertain and confused world.
Help them to reach for the highest professional standards, especially when budgets are stretched, time is tight, and competition increasing.
May they resist the temptation to follow the consensus, jump to easy conclusions, pander to prejudice or cut corners.
Help us, who read, watch, listen and contribute to the media, to play our part by being wise and discerning, so that truth and beauty will be the hallmarks of our media.
We offer these prayers in the Name of the One who brought the Good News, declared himself as the Truth, and gave Himself for a world in need.