Ruth works part time as development worker for theMediaNet and part time as press officer for the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
(in chronological order) ballet dancer, film star, Blue Peter presenter, Songs of Praise presenter, vicar, journalist, rock star
How did you get into the media?
My mum was a dance teacher so I spent years prancing around and was convinced that my career would be on the stage but after a spate of injuries, I hung up my dancing shoes in favour of studying theology at Oxford. Suitably confused about what to do with my life post uni, I worked as a PA for Nicky Gumbel but really missed the creativity I had always craved in a career. So I set my sights on working for BBC Religion, convinced it would satisfy both the creative hippy and geeky theologian in me. After being rejected from about 100 applications to be a PA in pretty much every department of the BBC, eventually BBC Worldwide were desperate enough to offer me a job. I then worked for Blue Peter for three years and eventually made my dream a reality by working for Songs of Praise.
What is the best bit of Christian media you’ve ever seen?
I’ve always been a little wary of explicitly Christian media as some of it feels cheesy, cringey and preachy so the best things I’ve seen have been those that are natural, about real people and have good production values – well scripted, shot, edited etc. I think the Alpha Course has done some pretty cool promos and the testimonies on the I Am Second website are well done. I think regardless of what we’re making, we have a duty to make sure that it points to Jesus. Even if we’re not working on explicitly religious programmes, we can highlight the hope, light and redemption in a story and draw out the good in characters. We need to be salt and light in our area of work and we all know that the media could do with a bit more of that.
What do you consider your greatest achievement so far?
Meeting Zach Efron, the man of my dreams. No really, I was genuinely tongue tied – our presenter had to do all the talking!
Seeing my programme ideas trending on twitter and featuring on the BBC homepage was pretty cool and, on a non-work note, touring with Mumford and Sons, playing at Glasto and running the London marathon are definitely up there.
What does your job at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics involve?
Myself and my colleague Nancy work closely with some of the most insanely intelligent people I’ve ever met to try and get coherent, rational Christian voices into the secular media. They have a number of expertise ranging from science and religion and philosophy to the problem of pain and suffering. We’re looking to get their articles into broadsheets, magazines and websites and find more opportunities for them to appear on TV shows and radio programmes.
What do you do to relax?
My twin and little sister are both in musical theatre so I spend a lot of time watching various West End shows – some more willingly than others! I read a lot of geeky theology books, I do youth work for my church, I play trumpet for a folk band and bass in a rock n roll band and I try and squeeze in watching as many gigs as I can.
Why do you think theMediaNet is important and what would you like to see it become?
Having worked in the media for four years, I know what a potentially difficult, isolating and often seemingly god-forsaken place it can be. I also know that it is amazing, creative, fun and inspiring. I think that Christians should try to permeate all walks of life but I believe that the media is an especially important place for us to be. It is equivalent to the printing press of the 16th century Reformation, it is the voice of the people and it has the power to destroy or bring hope. While many people will not set foot in a church, they will happily open a paper, switch on a TV or engage in social media and so we have a duty to use these outlets for His glory and the advancement of His Kingdom. I want every single Christian working in the media to feel supported, encouraged and prayed for and I want to see genuine friendships and working relationships growing out of theMediaNet. I have already seen the fruit of great projects and friendships but I long to see more. I’m aware that this is impossible for one person to achieve so I would love to see a more linear structure where people feel they can help support and encourage each other.