Sam Burrows is the second Press Service International New Zealand young writer in two successive years to receive an award at the Australasian Religious Press Association in Canberra at ARPA's 40th anniversary. Moreover in each case it was the only young writer entered by an ARPA member publication, and that sounds like 100% success rate!
Last year in Melbourne Sophia Sinclair from Christchurch won a bronze at ARPA's awards night and this year Sam Burrows of Auckland in the category: Best Column or Blog likewise won a Bronze. Entered and sighted by Julie Belding's "Lift Magazine" the judges said of Sam Burrows article "I want a new New Zealand":
".... he gives insight into the (NZ) culture and faith. His is an approach not commonly found in Christian publications but one that will find appeal both in the faith and those on its fringes. It's a quirky, stimulating and very readable message ..."
The 40th anniversary ARPA conference commenced on Friday 5 September with spirited presentations by Australian culture guru Mark Sayers from Melbourne's Red Church where he spoke of "images" as today's modern media's communication tool. He noted that the 'big ideas' had become smaller where social media link-ups by such platforms as Tinder, set up unlikely agendas of more limited and self centred focuses.
This was followed by Melinda Tankard-Reist who spoke of her own personal story and presented a frightening picture of the sexualised images of little and teenage girls demonstrating the successful activist program of getting such advertisements removed from the public space.
This was a very powerful presentation and through it illustrated how her team is working at grass roots rather than top down and this strategy has borne much fruit with success at that level.
The Annual General Meeting of ARPA saw much discussion on developing a strategy towards both engaging a more youthful involvement along with an overall revamp of the structures of the ARPA institution – which as strange as it might seem, is an institution made up of institutions (Religious Press organisations), not people. The only 'people involved' (as it were) are the Associate Members who cannot vote. Youngin' David Goodwin of Melbourne Salvation Army was elected to Communications utilising new platforms.
This was followed by three workshops between morning tea and afternoon tea with lunch in between.
The three workshops were very powerful presentations.
Lawyer Mark Fowler gave a legal update on such issues as religious vilification, freedom of speech, ACNC charity regulations and the issues surrounding the Andrew Bolt case.
The recently formed Australian Charity Not-For-Profit Commission (ACNC) was given airing from the workshop's floor and one delegate who had recently attended a seminar led by the ACNC commissioner explained that the concern was that in time, it would become the wolf at the door as a similar body set up in Britain had become.
Paul Osborne Senior Political Writer at Australian Associated Press workshop was titled "A Crisis – being in the media". This workshop focused on the damage the child sexual issue was doing and the nature of honesty in a crisis.
The third of the workshops was Tony Revell of Mailcare a major sponsor of the ARPA conference addressed the issue of Technologies to Enhance Production, Marketing & Fulfillment of Religious Publications. Through ARPA Mailcare had secured a Uniting Church contract and word was getting out.
The big four
The final Saturday plenary session was a press conference with four the big guns from the National Press Gallery. The topic was "Communication in a brave new world". Paul Osborne (AAP), Chris Uhlmann (ABC), Paul Bongiorno (Channel 10) and Dennis Shanahan (The Australian).
Paul Osborne chaired the group with each of the big four addressing the gathering and the program was then opened to questions.
Dennis Shanahan explained that The Australian's market place has seen a third of the readership on-line, a third hard-copy and a third inter-changing. In the USA now major on-line news services are buying up hard-copy newspapers as they are finding a growing audience with hard-copy.
Chris Uhlmann spoke of the quality of professional media people and the untrustworthiness of news coming out of on-line and social media outlets giving example after example of political stories.
Paul Bongiorno spoke of the value add that the Religious Press brings to the market place and that it is imperative that the Christian World View is not hidden or apologised for, rather it be heralded and extolling virtues of life, love and likewise poverty, homelessness ... He impressed upon the audience to have a clearly defined mission statement and sticking to it.
The 2014 Gutenberg, the major ARPA award was won by "Aurora" the Newcastle Maitland Catholic Diocese publication. Key note speaker for the occasion was Mr Mark Scott the chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission was addressed the nature of the changing platforms in media presentation and how many in the Religious Media have caught on.
The Sunday morning after worship involved a tour of the National Press Gallery at Parliament House and a final lunch hosted by John Cleary with guest speaker Jane Jeffes of ABC Religion. All in all, another very enjoyable ARPA conference.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html