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Christians urged to consider media consumption, as petition launched to protect celebrities following death of Caroline Flack

by Cara Bentley

After the death of Caroline Flack, a petition to have stricter laws which limit newspapers' intrusive scrutiny of celebrities has received over 500,000 signatures. 

Christians in Media, an organisation for believers working within the industry, has responded to the debate on the role of the media in mental health, saying the press has a lot to answer for but also that all Christians have a duty to ask themselves whether what they are watching or reading is honorable. 

TV presenter Caroline Flack, 40, died on Saturday, having taken her own life. She had been charged with assaulting her boyfriend and taken off the latest series of the dating show Love Island. 

Many have blamed the media for her mental state, because of their interrogation into her relationship status, intrusion on her privacy and the details of the alleged crime. 

Actress Stephanie Davis has started a petition, asking people to encourage the Government to write stricter laws on unfounded claims, taking photos without permission and releasing medical records. 

Toby Olujinmi, a trustee for Christians in Media told Premier: "The media has to join this conversation and answer some very serious questions. I think the way that they hounded her, the way that this current culture, the celebrity lifestyle and the fact that the media consistently try to push past that line of privacy needs to be looked at. 

"This is a lady that was obviously going through a very traumatic dark time. I think anyone listening to this would have gone through dark phases at some point and imagine [how it feels] having absolutely no space to breathe. I think really needs to be looked at - how are we reporting news? How will we obtain stories? And are we doing it at the expense of mental health and wellbeing?"


Olujinmi, founder of Christian women's podcast W talk, also said she thinks the drama-hungry public are fueling the problem.

"I do think there needs to be guidelines for media outlets, but I also think that before those guidelines perhaps there's something that we can do today, because when you click on something the commercial value to that increases and they continue to tell the stories," she said.

Referencing Philippians 4, she said: "'Whatever is true, whatever is good, whatever is honorable think on those things' - I think that's applicable here. If we're honest, Love Island was a successful show because people like the drama and the same is applicable to news stories. People like to know who's dating who but we have to ask ourselves, actually is that at the expense of the wellbeing? If it is at the expense of the wellbeing of the person we're reading, then I do think we have a responsibility."

She encouraged Christians to ask themselves: Is it glorifying? Why are you watching it? Is it continuing to contribute to culture negatively? What are the impacts of society and the culture?



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