The Five Cities Project of the Religion Media Centre

Image credit: Climate Reality Project

The Religion Media Centre is an independent, impartial organisation seeking to help the media be better informed and have greater understanding of religion and worldviews in the UK. 84 per cent of people in the world are affiliated to a religion and in today’s global society, understanding beliefs, culture and practices has never been more important, to foster understanding, respect and social cohesion.

Our purpose is to help plug gaps in religious literacy in order to improve understanding, so that faith groups and the media feel their voice has been heard and their concerns understood. We come across frequently, faith groups that feel misunderstood, misrepresented and ignored, so they have retreated into silence and the gulf created is not good for journalism or faith groups.

We know there are great stories to be told from people of faith, for whom their identity, history, culture and life are all bound up with religion, belief and a sense of belonging; while the numbers of people saying they have no religion is growing, and the multiple worldviews which guide motivation and behaviour remain to be explored and understood.

In an effort to improve links and build better journalism, we have been awarded a grant to launch a project in five cities, giving the opportunity for faith communities to meet journalists and other media professionals. We are hoping to organise these encounters in:

  • Birmingham
  • Manchester
  • Leeds
  • Plymouth
  • East Midlands (city still to be decided)

We are hoping that the events will take place in the autumn, giving us a chance of doing something in person, as well as online. Our initial thought is that the events will take place in the late afternoon / early evening. The format will follow the pattern of an event held in Cardiff in 2016, when about 80 journalists met a similar number of faith leaders.

The journalists were able to present how print and broadcast media works, what makes a good story and how to achieve coverage. Faith leaders explained how their various faiths and denominations were organised locally and nationally, the kinds of activities and campaigns they thought would interest the press and their experience of dealing with the media.

As we prepare to launch the project, we are looking for people to support us in each of the five areas. We have found that our aims to increase the understanding of religion are winning support of many, including editors, print and broadcast journalists, academics, faith leaders and RE teachers.

Contact Ruth Peacock [email protected] for more information about how to support these events.

We are grateful for funding from Culham St Gabriel Trust whose vision we share, that a broad-based, critical and reflective education in religion and worldviews contributes to a well-informed, respectful and open society.

“Religious correspondents are blessed with a beat that really speaks to people – how they live, how they love, how they work, how they die. I am arguing there are better stories out there.”

James Harding, former editor of the Times and Director of News at the BBC, spoke at our Religion Media Festival in 2018


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