Clergy public image in Mass Media
Keywords:priest, Orthodox Christianity, mass media, journalism, publication, print media, image, journalist, society
AbstractAs the Russian Orthodox Church implements its new strategy in response to the challenges of the modern society, the public image of the modern Church officer is being re-examined. The Church tries to present to the public a well-educated broad-minded priest able to adjust a spiritual message according to perceptions of different social groups and communities. This is why the Moscow Patriarchate supports mass media in highlighting the church topics to develop a comprehensive understanding of clergy’s social role. This article provides an analysis of the activity of secular and Church media to promote certain priest’s image in the collective consciousness. The author describes techniques that help journalists create a particular psychological and socio-cultural portrait of the clergy. Factors that make this portrait either valid or distorted are provided in the paper. The author suggests that there is a strong need to search for new tools that could help promote a true public image of the clergy. The findings of the study are as follows: (1) the positioning of the clergy as a social group of the Russian society is tied to conservative and progressive trends in the Church discourse; (2) Perception of a priest as a social object in secular media is related to stereotypization, shallow judgments as the media try to pick up extremes from the event line; (3) Church media also use stereotypization: instead of presenting the pastoral mission’s motivation as it is, they promote an idealized type; (4) insufficient access of the media to the prominent clergy representatives restricts the journalists’ viewpoint on the clergy problems; (5) the Church has come to realize the need to more closely cooperate with secular media to achieve true and reliable coverage of the public activities of the clergy.