Hard News by Russell Brown


Belief Media

In general, New Zealanders have long taken a secular view of religious holidays: more of us relish the chance for a break at Easter than embrace the opportunity for contemplation. But on Media7 this week, we're going with a Christian theme. Specifically, we're looking at Christian media and Christianity in the media.

It appears to me there are some interesting trends to talk about. Radio Rhema has always been strongly evangelical, but the 9am to noon slot on weekdays is now hosted by Pat Brittenden, a an experienced mainstream broadcaster who is a Christian but doesn't consider himself a "Christian broadcaster" as such. Today's panel discussion featured Family First's Bob McCoskrie -- but also David Slack. Pat also talks to Whale Oil.

On the other hand, the Christian Broadcasting Association will be providing 12 hours of faith radio on Newstalk ZB on Good Friday, as part of an established relationship with ZB. The CBA also works with broadcast professionals who are public about their beliefs, including Rob Harley and Petra Bagust, who both offer their take on this kind of work in this CBA promotional video:

CBA manager/producer Phil Guyan will be joining us on the Media7 panel to discuss the different -- and distinct -- streams of Christian media: media for Christians, Christian content for secular audiences, and Christian personalities working in secular mainstream media.

He'll be joined by Lavinia Ngatoko, news editor of the Challenge Weekly newspaper, which carries both national and international news about the Christian world. Today's news might not seem so compelling to a wider audience -- two new Bible Society "mission adventurers" are headed for the Australian Outback -- And it does incline towards "good news". But it was Challenge Weekly that broke the story of Destiny Church's questionable "oath of allegiance" to its leader Brian Tamaki, and its contacts within the Christian world are the envy of the mainstream press.

Completing the panel is the former Dean of Holy Trinity Church in Auckland,  the Reverend Richard Randerson, who is often seen as the moderate, liberal voice of the church in the media and was somewhat inaccurately seen as doubting his own faith in a controversial Herald interview (his meaning was more nuanced, in that he really said he regarded parts of the Bible as allegorical and poetic, rather than factual).

His position has generally been one of tolerance and diversity -- more Jesus than Paul, perhaps -- and he supported the repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act, which allowed a defence of "reasonable force" for parents charged with assaulting their children. In a media environment where McCoskrie will always pick up the phone and give a quote, I imagine his role was not always an easy one.

This website is generally a most secular venue, but I'm interested in the insights of both believers and non-believers on the topic here. And I would like everyone to show respect to each other in this discussion. Actually, that's not just a request, but a requirement of participation. Ta.

If you'd like to join us for the Media7 recording tomorrow (ie: Wednesday) we'll need you to turn up some time between 5.15 and 5.40pm at the Victoria Street entrance of TVNZ. As ever, try and drop me a line to let me know you're coming.

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