Media: Happy is the broadcaster remembered in their prayers

Editors will have to improve their code of conduct or, warns Kathy Marks, they may find some formidable women breathing down their necks.

The subject of press intrusion is nothing new to members of the country's largest association of Anglican women. The Mothers' Union has been expressing concern about it for years.

Among the good works of this bastion of family values is the Media Awareness Project (MAP), which aims to promote a better understanding of the influence of the media on people's lives and to inject a distinctively Christian perspective into the debate.

It is a surprisingly slick operation for a group usually associated with jam-making and knitting. Among the material that it publishes is a glossy quarterly bulletin, and a leaflet containing detailed information on how to register displeasure about programmes and articles - with telephone numbers of all the broadcasting outlets and regulatory bodies.

When calling these organisations, members of MAP are advised to be not only polite and persistent, but also "prayerful" - which the leaflet says will help ensure that their comments reach the right person and are dealt with to best effect.

Among the events organised by project coordinators are regular conferences on themes such as teenage magazines and the role of the church in advertising. In recent months, groups have visited the BBC's Pebble Mill studios in Birmingham and its religious programmes department in Manchester.

"We want to encourage people to be more discerning about the media," says Claire Laland, who edits the MAP bulletin. "Our aim is to give them the information to enable them to make more informed judgements.

One recent innovation is a scheme called Adopt a Broadcaster, which links harassed radio and television folk in need of spiritual succour with members of the project who are willing to pray for them. It has had an enthusiastic reception among religious broadcasters, who are often confined to the studio on Sundays, unable to attend church services.

Prayers are also offered for the media in general. Before the general election, readers of the bulletin were exhorted to give special mention to "broadcasters and journalists, as they take decisions about the information they give us".

The project was set up 10 years ago, with a grant from the Jerusalem Trust, in response to anxieties about the impact of American television evangelists. In the event, "televangelism" never took off on this side of the Atlantic, so MAP's brief was widened to encompass all facets of broadcasting, together with newspapers, magazines, advertising and cinema.

While it is run by the Mothers' Union, through local branches based on the diocesan structure of the Anglican Church, the project is intended to be ecumenical.

The collective voice of the Mothers' Union, meanwhile, is expressed in forthright fashion through another channel. Twice a year it publishes a document called Media Comment, which is a compilation of views on specific radio and television programmes; it is sent to the broadcasters and regulatory bodies.

The last Media Comment had stern words for television soap operas and sitcoms, noting that "adult leisure appeared to consist of drinking alcohol, navigating themselves through the minefields of turbulent relationships and indulging in sex".

Programmes that displeased members included The Girlie Show ("unappreciated by all"), Hollywood Lovers ("fascinatingly awful") and Common As Muck ("spoiled by too much swearing and unnecessary violence"). Approval was signalled for, among others, Yes Prime Minister, University Challenge and Star Trek ("popular with husbands and offspring").

Claire Laland says that what sets the Mothers' Union initiatives apart from those of other traditionalist groups, such as Mary Whitehouse's National Viewers and Listeners Association, is the emphasis that they place on the need to praise as well as criticise.

"It gives us more credibility if we take a balanced approach," she says "We can help those people making wildlife and religious programmes fight for their budgets."

Mrs Laland has already had feedback on the biggest media story of the year, the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. "Some said that the coverage was good on the day she died, but that afterwards there was just too much of it." She says that members feel encouraged by the apparent commitment of newspapers to clean up their act on the question of privacy. "For so many years, people have been talking about the intrusive coverage of the Royal Family. But they felt helpless. Now they sense that they can make a difference if they make that phone call or write that letter."

As Janet Harris, who coordinates the Adopt A Broadcaster scheme, says: "We enter the debate as Christians, and that adds a different dimension, because the standards and values that we have through our faith are not necessarily those promulgated by television and newspapers."

"Our mission is to promote the well-being of families worldwide. Showing concern about what comes into our homes via the media is directly related to that."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm - London

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

Sauce Recruitment: Financial Accountant -Home Entertainment

£200 - £250 per day: Sauce Recruitment: 6 month contract (Initially)A global e...

Sauce Recruitment: Financial Accountant -Home Entertainment

£200 - £250 per day: Sauce Recruitment: 6 month contract (Initially)A global e...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project