As war correspondents risk their lives to cover the conflict in Ukraine, and political reporters grapple with the unfolding dramas in Downing Street, Whitehall and across the globe, Christians and churches are being encouraged to pray for the media and those who work in it on Sunday 30 October.
The call, by Christians in Media, comes as 49 journalists and media workers have been reported killed around the world this year, and 524 are currently in prison. The grim figures from campaigning organisation Reporters without Borders (RSF) underline the increasing risks faced by journalists as they seek to report the news.
A global index compiled by RSF shows North Korea, Eritrea and Iran as having the worst records on press freedom, with China also near the foot of the table. The recent renewal of Chinese leader Xi Jinping's grip on power is seen as confirming the mega-nation's hard-line stance on media dissent.
Earlier this month two hitmen pleaded guilty to the assassination of Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in October 2017.
The call for Christians to pray also comes at a time when trust in many news sources is low, and fake news and disinformation is a major concern worldwide.
Christians in Media – a community for Christians working in and with media in the UK – has published videos and prayers on its website and wants to encourage prayer both for the media, and for Christians who are working in media of all kinds.
Speaking at the group's annual service in London this month, broadcaster Simon Thomas encouraged Christians considering a career in media to, "Keep God right at the centre of everything that you do. Include him at every stage because there are going to be setbacks, there are going to be dreams that didn't quite happen in the way you wanted, but God will lead you through, he will take you to where you need to be."
The former Blue Peter and Sky Sports presenter told the service how he seeks to be open about his faith. He explained: "If I'm ever interviewed for a job in a media setting, I will talk about my faith because it's real, it's part of who I am, it's part of my family and I'll be bold enough to say, if that's a problem for a broadcaster, then I'd rather not take that job."
TV presenter Dan Walker told The Guardian this week, "The most important thing for me in terms of my faith – my Christianity – is that it gives me a sense of perspective. I am led by what I call the "Fs": the important Fs to me are family, friends and faith.
"Because of my faith, I don't work Sundays. It's not something that anyone else has to adhere to – my sister is a nurse and works on Sundays all the time – but I've often worked hard the other six days of the week, and I want our family to be together on that day no matter what."
Christians in Media explained, "Love it or hate it, media plays a vital role in our lives. At its best, media gives a voice to the voiceless, holds the powerful to account, and highlights unjust practices while entertaining us and keeping us informed.
"As Christians, we affirm and support the media's vital role in our society. We promote the highest standards in the media and give our backing to the vast majority of people working in media as they strive for integrity and truth."
The group added, "From national newspapers to local radio, from websites to specialist publications, from TV networks to blogs, all have a valuable role to play. A thriving global and national media matters to all of us. We want to know about our world, its celebrations, its problems and its joys, and we need a thriving media to help us engage with it."
One of the prayers suggested by Christians in Media is by ITV News journalist Julie Etchingham. She writes:
You are the word made flesh
You are both the great communicator and the great communication.
Lord, we thank you for all those you have called to serve in the world of media.
We recognise the strategic and important role that media has in our world.
Lord grant to each one
Discernment to hear your voice
Wisdom in what to share
Integrity in how to share
Creativity in their sharing
Courage to stand for truth
Grace in serving you and others
May your peace, presence, light their way.
In the amazing name of Jesus
Rev Peter Crumpler is a Church of England minister in St Albans, Herts, UK, and a former communications director with the Church of England.