If we formulate the main task of the Orthodox media and, even broader, of the entire Orthodox Church in the face of a modern secular society – which are in many ways conflicting, and feeding on the ideals of mass culture and stereotypes that do not correspond to the moral nature and traditions of the people - in the face of these challenges, the task of the Church is to proclaim what the main purpose is in a person’s life.
How can the Church do this? Through preaching, of course, but only a small percentage of those people who identify with the Orthodox Church are regular parishioners. How to contact them? To those doubting, crumpled souls who are on the intellectual and spiritual lookout? There is no other way but to use the media.
Someone will mention the missionary significance of the media and they will be right. Even the word “mission” narrows the scope of the tasks in this case. Of course, everything the Church does is ultimately a mission to save people, but the challenge facing the media associated with the Orthodox Church far exceeds those that are usually set before the missioners starting work in the mission field...
The Orthodox media are obliged to structure their problems in a sober and balanced manner. So, every kind of attention should be paid to the problem of the continuity of culture and its particular manifestation the problem of language. This however, is just one example of the thoughtful responsibility that Orthodox journalists are to make responsible use of. In fact, the scope of this responsibility is much wider. After all, what people believe in, what values they adhere to, and how they act, depends very much on what the media say in the modern world.
In a sense, the media today are becoming a battlefield for the minds and hearts of our contemporaries, and we have no right to lose this battle. So that there is no shyness and so that our knees do not tremble, let us remember the Apostle Paul, who won this battle, not making any promises with his conscience or with his teaching, but finding the right language in communicating with those who listened to him.
The Orthodox media, and the Orthodox journalists who cooperate with the secular media, face the enormous task of re-Christianizing our culture. This does not always mean direct preaching, but it always means looking at the world from the standpoint of Christian values and striving to ensure that the message that the journalist addresses to listeners, viewers, and readers is highly professional. I mean not only refined professionalism and well-turned forms, but it is also necessary that there is the presence of the author himself felt in every word, and that the author is filled with faith and hope for the opportunity to transform this world.
Only then will the Orthodox media compete with the secular ones. In order to compete, one must not repeat the mistakes of the secular media. There is no need to turn into a paid services agency, where principles recede into the background, and in the foreground is the goal of acquiring money. Purity of intent, power of speech, deep personal faith, and the experience of Christ’s presence in human his-tory should make our media, using modern terminology, competitive.
We must constantly think about the fact that people who are spiritually and intellectually capable of doing this should represent the Church in the media. That is why journalists and Christian media leaders must live the Faith all the time. You must not only come to services from time to time with a camera. You must not be some kind of foreign body during the service. You must be part of a prayer com-munity, personally experiencing everything that happens at the time of the Eucharist. Then your word will be convincing, then it will be easy to distinguish right from left, good from evil, then it will be easy to discern spirits (1 John, 4, 1), including among those who allegedly write on behalf of the Church and allegedly speak from a position of the protector of the Church’s interests.
Address to the participants of the 4th International Festival of Orthodox Media “Faith and Word” Moscow, October 12, 2010
The Russian Orthodox Church strives to use all possible means to be a witness for Christianity to the world. Orthodox journalists and diocesan press secretaries are called to put the gospel mission at the forefront of their work. This strategic vision of what a Christian journalist is called to do should never leave you.
When we are in the thick of things, in the vicissitudes of modern social life, our attention is often switched to other goals and values. When you move the camera from one subject to another, and then quickly point at the subject that you have already shot, the focus is lost. Even the most modern cameras are not always able to focus the lens so as not to lose this visual acuity. It is the same with a person: when he switches his focus and attention from the primary to the secondary, the primary is blurred and ceases to be bright and to attract attention.
I use this example to say that the main work to which you are called is the work of serving the Lord our Savior. This is the fulfillment of the mission of the Church in a very specific environment. In addition, the mission the Church has as its goal is the salvation of man. Everything else is secondary - everything that hurts society, both ours and other’s; all political vicissitudes, all clashes of corporate, national, and individual group interests, and the struggle for power is secondary. Man’s salvation is primary, and everyone who has felt through experience what it means to move towards Christ with a desire to find salvation for one’s soul, understands the primacy of this goal.
To carry out this mission of the Church in the field of mass media, you need to constantly take care of your spiritual condition. This is very difficult, because a journalist, by virtue of his profession, is involved in many everyday vicissitudes. This requires attention to detail, a tremendous effort to remain persuasive, and to defend one’s position.
Here is the fundamental question: how, in carrying out this complex work, is one to preserve taking care of one’s inner spiritual state as a priority? In a sense, what has been said is directly related to professional success. The Orthodox journalist can fulfill his mission with dignity only when he does not lose sight of the main thing, that is when he has enough inner strength to remain a Christian, regardless of the complexity of the context experienced.
Obviously, a solid foundation is needed for the delicate work of this obligatory service. It is also needed because an Orthodox journalist is called upon to react to the world around him not through the prism of his political preferences, cultural dominants, or under the influence of group interests, but exclusively through the prism of his Christian convictions. This is what makes him different from any other journalist.
If you look at the world this way, your view is reflected in what you say, write, and show. Therefore, you should not wear either rosy or dark glasses. There should be a crystal of your faith in front of you. It is through it that you need to look at the world; in it your intellectual and spiritual energy should be focused and transmitted to the world around you.
Speech at the closing ceremony of the 5th International Festival of Orthodox Media “Faith and Word”, Moscow, October 31, 2012
The editor-in-chief of an Orthodox media outlet should set a good ambitious task for himself - to make his own media truly popular and reach a wide audience. It is also very important though to work for those who are already within the Church - we need professional intra-church communication. By the way, the lack of professionalism in the environment of church communication gives rise to some problems, a certain sluggishness and inability of our journalism to respond to the challenges that are being addressed to the Church today. Therefore, one of the tasks of church journalism and representatives of the press at all levels is to participate in the formation of a common source of information which would ensure a high level of intra-church communication and coordination of actions.
However, we must also remember that today all our compatriots need the word, no matter what country they live in or whether they are secular people, people of little faith, doubters, or unbelievers.
When we speak publicly, we must always understand that people who are not in the church hear us, and our speech should not form a distorted or incorrect idea of our faith, hope, recumbence, and mission.
Speech at the closing ceremony of the 5th International Festival of Orthodox Media “Faith and Word” Moscow, October 31, 2012
If we enter into a discussion only to show the intellectual inconsistency of our adversary, what benefit do we and the Church receive? This question can also be addressed to the editors of some Orthodox media, which, in their pursuit of popularity, forget about their responsibility before their brothers and sisters in Christ. We often hear about unfair competition slander and insults within the Orthodox media. This is unacceptable.
An Orthodox journalist should remain, first of all, a believer, for whom it is important to give a good defense before God’s judgment, not about the growth of traffic to his website, the circulation of his publications, the popularity of his radio or his television pro-grams, but above all for a conscientious witness about the Church.
Report at the Bishops’ Council 2013, Moscow, February 2, 2013