Rector Chick

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A memorable part of my role at St Laurence Cowley was Rector Chick. A fictional character, fluffy yellow chick, and ordained priest in a dog collar, he shared church news and engaged followers on St Laurence Cowley’s Twitter account.

Rector Chick still exists on his own Twitter account and tweets from time to time. In his hey day – the initial project lasted for four months – he ran as a kind of soap opera with photographs and other characters, including Fr Koala and Bishop Bunny.

His primary purpose was to show what Christianity looks like when it’s communicated outside of traditional words and methods.

He wasn’t a planned social media project. He arrived in a flash of unexpected inspiration. Then I intended to keep him online for just a week. Finally he stayed and stayed because so many people responded to him.

The initial project ended because he was so popular I was rather overwhelmed by it all! On most days I spent at least two or three hours chatting with Rector Chick’s online friends.

Rector Chick was a big departure for me. He was my first imaginative creative project after years of non-imaginative academic writing.

I asked Colin, who was one of Rector Chick’s favourite friends (and who also runs the well known Twitter account @theabingdontaxi), whether he’d mind writing a reference for Rector Chick. This is what he said:

“Rector Chick was conceived as a cheeky but lovable animal character, to add value to the church’s social media presence. He was able to engage in discussion and say things which were still within the core message of the church, but from a slightly left field and humorous perspective.

From the beginning, Rector Chick quickly built a following of social media users who regularly interacted with him, on issues of the day, both locally and within the wider church. His strengths lay in his ability to present a less formal presence. Through the relating of his adventures, he managed to attract those who had not interacted with the other core parts of the social media strategy.”

Thank you Colin!

Lay preacher

For the past few years I’ve been working in a variety of roles at St Laurence Cowley parish church in Greater London. I’ve been a lay* preacher there since 2009. It’s been a great opportunity to make use of my academic training in a different context.

I asked the Howcroft family if they’d mind writing a reference for this blog.

“We as a family always enjoy the weeks when Claire George preaches the sermon at our church.

Claire’s diction is clear and coherent so that the elderly members of our congregation can hear every word. Her intonation holds your interest and makes you want to continue listening to the message she is trying to get across.

Her sermons are always informative, down to earth and thought provoking and although Claire is not a trained theologian, she has the talent to include and explain theological aspects in ordinary language that is very easy to understand.

In short, Claire is valued by us all for the work she does at St Laurence.”

Thank you Howcroft family!

* A lay person is someone who hasn’t been ordained. i.e. Is not a minister.

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After OhmyNews … a chapter of media analysis

After my return to England I completed a Master’s in print journalism at Brunel University. I took the course to improve my vocational skills and learn more about British newspaper journalism.

I followed the NCTJ curriculum, gained some practical interviewing and news writing experience and wrote a few essays. For me the exciting part of the course was my dissertation research into the 2008 press reaction to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech about Sharia.

After graduation I was invited to rewrite the dissertation as a chapter for Pointing the Finger: Islam and Muslims in the British Media. Click on the link below to see the book on Google and my chapter “This idiotic man…” (I’m a fan of the former Archbishop by the way!)

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=FQnrAQAAQBAJ&lpg=PP1&dq=pointing%20the%20finger%20islam%20and%20muslims&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false

My time at OhmyNews International in Seoul

I came back to this blog in 2015 after seeing a colleague’s PhD blog in their email signature. “Ooo,” I thought, “I wonder if mine is still online.” And it is. Then I thought it might be nice to write about what I’ve been doing since the PhD.

The first job I had afterwards was for “OhmyNews International”, a well known international citizen journalism website based in Seoul. I began as a citizen journalist and podcaster, then I joined the team of assistant editors.

OMNI, as lots of people called it, was owned by the South Korean citizen journalism company OhmyNews. Their very successful Korean news website is still running. I believe OMNI was largely intended to be the company’s English language showcase for the potential of citizen journalism.

My time at OhmyNews International was very exciting. Citizen journalism and Web 2.0 were then very fashionable. There was a lot of well deserved excitement and idealism about the way OMNI was bringing together citizen reporters from around the world. Many of our writers were based in Nepal, India, Pakistan, the Americas and Africa.

For me the best part of the job was talking to people around the world. When the earthquakes hit Nepal recently I was quite sad wondering whether I had known any of those killed or injured.

I left OhmyNews at the end of my contract as the company began winding down its team of foreign editors. About a year or so later, OMNI closed down. The experiment moved forward in another form, leaving behind a lot of fond memories.

Here is an interview that a citizen reporter conducted with me shortly after I left.

A few years later I wrote a foreword to this citizen reporter’s lovely and alive book. Click on the word “book.”

I also joined others writing about OhmyNews for this special edition of the Amateur Computerist. Click below to download the PDF.

OhmyNews Issue of the Amateur Computerist

An Historical Oversight

I owe the blogosphere a post on Malcolm Jones’ book The Print in Early Modern England. It’s hard to know what to say really because it’s such a big book. It fills a gap in scholarship by providing a thorough overview of the print in 16th and 17th century Britain. If you’re one of the many people who find this blog on Google by typing in search terms related to 17th-century engravings, then you really ought to have a look at this book. If you’re a PhD or Masters student, definitely look at this book. You’ll be told off by your tutor if you don’t.

When I was an undergraduate Art History student way back in the mid 1990s I studied the satirical prints of 18th-century England. If memory serves me correctly, back in those days the study of the 18th-century print was still quite a new thing. When I began my PhD 8 or 9 years ago (dear me, is it really that far back in history), very little had been published on the 17th-century print. Writing my literature survey chapter was a nightmare because I couldn’t find enough literature to put in it. The book I relied on was Anthony Griffiths’ The Print in Stuart Britain. (Which students really should look at by the way.)

Anyway, back to Jones’ lovely great big book. I think there’s a lot in it for historians of early modern culture and for anyone with a general interest in English history. Students of theology and Christianity will be interested in the chapters on religious prints. For example, there’s a chapter on anti-Catholic satirical prints and another on the Godly Life. I was delighted to see a chapter on anti-Protestant and anti-sectarian imagery.

It’s hard for me to give an accurate assessment of this book because I am out of the scholarship loop. I don’t know what else has been published recently. But I think that this book has a lot of fresh new material in terms of both prints and historical quotations, and I like that very much.