UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

from FaithWorld:

Feisty debates between Catholics and secularists before pope visit to Britain

arrest the pope002If you like debates about religion but were turned off by the uproar in the United States over Koran-burning and the New York Islamic centre, take a look at the rhetorical duelling that's been going on in Britain ahead of Pope Benedict's visit there starting on Thursday. For the past few weeks, the leading lights of secularist and atheist thought have been hammering away at the Catholic Church, playing up its sins like the sexual abuse crisis and arguing that the pope doesn't deserve the honour of a state visit. A quick Google search digs out plenty of them. (Click on the screen grab for video on British group's proposal to arrest Pope Benedict during his visit/MSNBC via YouTube)

On the other side, a group of lay Catholics has formed a speakers' bureau ready to face off with the critics and defend the pope and the Church. They're a kind of rapid reaction force, ready to appear anywhere to refute the secularists and atheists. The result has been a feisty in-your-face exchange providing the pro and contra arguments for many current disputes over the Catholic Church. Some arguments could be criticised as too emotional or even irrational, but boring they're not.

Catholic Voices, the speakers' bureau that's been putting up sparring partners for the Church's critics, must already rank as one of the big innovations of this papal tour.  Popes are no strangers to protests when they visit foreign countries, but the Vatican and the local Church hierarchy usually ignore the critics or give cautious responses. Under Pope Benedict, Vatican public relations has been so badly organised that both he and his aides have often provided even more fuel for criticism. Given the strong and mostly critical interest the media would show in the pope's visit, these speakers - journalists, lawyers, students and a few clergy - decided the Church needed a more professional operation if it was to get its message across.

skyscreengrabdebate002Catholic Voices coordinator Austen Ivereigh (photo at far right in screengrab from Sky TV debate, click on image for video), a former deputy editor of The Tablet and spokesman for Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, gave me his thoughts about the project and how it's been doing:

How big a problem is workplace bullying?

Photo
-

worker2A political row is brewing after allegations of bullying were aimed at Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The claims, made in a book and published in a Sunday newspaper, accused Brown of several abusive outbursts, including grabbing staff by the lapels, shoving them aside and shouting at them.

Downing Street has strenuously denied that the “malicious allegations” are true, while Conservative leader David Cameron has said he expects there to be an inquiry into the claims.

from MediaFile:

Digital, Life, Design 2010 Live Coverage

DLD (Digital - Life - Design) is a three-day experience gathering 800 entrepreneurs, investors, philantropists, scientists, artists and creative minds from all over the world. With global diversity in attendees and an interdisciplinary perspective of digital, media, design, art, science, brands, consumers and society, the conference is known as the European forum for the "creative class".

Follow live coverage of the conference here

Will a free market for news media harm impartiality?

Photo
-

BRITAIN/Business Secretary Peter Mandelson took a subtle dig at the Murdoch News empire this week when he said that some in the commercial sector want to maintain an “iron grip” on pay TV and “to erode the commitment to impartiality — in other words, to fill British airwaves with more Fox-style news.”

“They believe that profit alone should drive the gathering and circulation of news rather than allowing a role for what they call ‘state-sponsored journalism’,” he added, during the second reading of the Digital Economy Britain bill.

from MacroScope:

Recession? It’s all in the mind…

Remember that old chestnut about how it's a recession when your neighbour loses his job and it's a depression when YOU lose yours?

Well, research carried out by Datamonitor suggests a similar divergence between British consumer perception and behaviour during the current economic downturn.

from Sean Maguire:

The raw and the crafted

The Media Standards Trust has begun a lecture series on 'Why Journalism Matters'. It is disconcerting that it feels we have to ask the question. The argument put forward by the British group's director Martin Moore is that news organisations are so preoccupied with business survival that discussion of the broader social, political and cultural function of journalism gets forgotten. It is a pertinent review then, given the icy economic blasts hitting most Anglo-Saxon media groups, and notwithstanding the recent examples of self-evidently broader journalistic 'value' produced by London's Daily Telegraph in its politican-shaming investigations into parliamentarians' expenses.

First up in the series was Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times, who cantered through the justifications for a vibrant, independent press. Watchdog, informer, explainer, campaigner, community builder and debater - those are the roles that journalism plays. The value that it brings is most evident by comparison with the unhealthiness of states where the press is not free, noted Barber, citing the struggles of the citizenry in China and Russia to hold their leaders to account.

BBC – taking a stand on Gaza

Photo
-

The BBC has been roundly condemned at home for its refusal to broadcast an emergency appeal for Gaza on behalf of the Disasters Emergency Committee, a coalition of 13 aid agencies.

It says it does not want to be seen to be taking sides in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and that broadcasting the appeal could jeopardise its carefully cultivated position of impartiality. Sky News has followed suit.

Max Mosley’s “unfortunate interest”

Photo
-

Max MosleyFIA motorsport head Max Mosley is suing the News of the World in the wake of its revelations that he held sado-masochistic spanking sessions with prostitutes.

He is not alleging libel but breach of privacy, saying that although he had practised what he called his “unfortunate interest” for some 45 years, it was his business and his alone and had no bearing on his professional position.

McCartney divorce: Fair payout?

Photo
-

heather.jpgPaul McCartney has been ordered to pay his estranged wife Heather Mills 24.3 million pounds after their public and highly acrimonious divorce settlement.

She said: “we are very, very pleased.” The ex-Beatle declined to comment.

  •