Freemasonry and the Challenges of the Media
Three subjects were particularly attracted the attention of the group.
What information do we need to communicate and to whom?
Very clearly, the group makes the distinctness between the information for the Brethren and that to the secular world.
In the first case, the Brothers expect information of two types.
As in any living society, it is necessary to speak of social life of our Order: it communicated with the governing bodies, information on the life of the Grand Lodge and of the Lodges (conferences, seminars, exhibitions,... but also the events. Simply inform.
The second expectation of any free- mason lies in the “spiritual” food that will help him on his Masonic way, help him evolve!
For the majority of the participants, most Grand Lodges (GLs) meet these demands and fulfill their informative function.
With this second type of communication things become more difficult.
There is evidence for all of us that Freemasonry cannot be transmitted without an intimate personal approach, everything is published and public and nobody can prevent a reader, FM or not, to take knowledge of all rituals, all the rituals at some degree of any kind. In this meaning also, the FM has nothing secret!
The second target audience is obviously the secular world.
In fact, it is the transmitted message that matters most. What seems difficult in our time, is the human side of the transmission and not the lack of clear answers. All the participants clearly marked the need to individualize, to regionalize the way to communicate, that there is no single and uniform recipe for each GL but that each
Obedience must use the language and the habits of the Brothers and of his fellow citizens.
It has been mentioned here the difficulty in finding the right way of transmission and especially the right information.
Those who read us have two expectations. That of the profane interest in our Order and inquires the idea of presentting a possible candidature. Then we must be very attentive to the current way of zapping the sites and in a human way of being held by one who resembles, who resembles, being the more attractive. Each of our Obedience has therefore a primary interest to retain the profane reader future Macon rather than let him go elsewhere. Because they are the decision makers of tomorrow who come today in our Lodges ! If FM wants to have an impact on the change of the society, it must therefore it attract towards it those who in a few years will have the power to do so. And that, not because they are FMs, but because they think and disseminate our values in the secular society.
But there is a second readership more pernicious, the anti- masons who just sting, then warp, what they find on our sites. We shall return there in the third part of this report.
I now turn directly to the second point of our discussions.
How to communicate with modern techniques of electronic media?
Whatever media used, site, forum, blog, social media or other, a nagging question reiterates: stop to amateurism and room for professionals.
The public of our sites are people who were born and live mostly with computers and the youngest of them react with reflexes of our society of zapping: everything should go very quickly! One page of 30 lines is zapped, not even begun being read. A 6-minute video is zapped, no more than 2 minutes!
Our systems must follow the evolution of the readers and for this be very professional.
The interactive dimension has been put in evidence. When a reader asks a question on a forum, he expects an answer immediately or almost immediately. Finished so are the systems where the answer arrives in a week! But quality cannot be sacrificed for rapidity, because it is this quality that defines us in comparison with the profane.
Thus, it raises the need of the creation and use of two different sites depending on whether they address the profane or the members. Rapidity for the former and seriousness for the latter.
Some GLs have even offered different types reading: A superficial view that gives an overview of the FM, presenting the main themes that inspire us with referrals to longer texts, more sophisticated for the player whose first hook caught his/her attention.
The majority of GLs allow freedom to communicate to each of their lodges, others not believing that communication is a case of Great lodge. The concern of uniformity of information, control of texts and concepts, calls for increased surveillance! As already mentioned above, the sovereignty of each Obedience must be respected and above all, it must correspond to the habits and customs of the concerned country.
There is no less than the legitimacy of the information placed on the sites which is a problem in some countries and no I would I turn to the third item of our reflections.
How to ensure the security of our information?
There was mentioned the experience of hacking on sites, especially on the Loges but also on LGs. Substitution of pages, hidden changes of information, fake sites, manipulation of youth across sites, etc..
the website of one of our GLs was visited 20,000 times in a month with 60,000penetration attempts by hackers ! Incredible hat our sites are so interested for the malicious people! So, caution, although you think yours is the best and it cannot be breached. Yet only a professional can create the security conditions that are necessary so that the world may have OUR information and not fake information.
It also quoted the way in which younger people check and have the perception of the accuracy of the information received. For most of it, their opinion is founded on the redundancy of the same information on multiple sites. Hence, once again the need to see our Web pages quoted firstly by the search engines and to "fix" the reader on our sites.
In conclusion, the following strengths were identified during these two sessions :
- Professionalism of our IT teams,
- Exchanges of regulated communication between our Obediences and reciprocal information on the attempted penetration,
- Caution on social networks where we cannot control the evolution of diffusion. It is even difficult to know which is the origin of the information or to whom it was sent,
- Large reserves towards the discussion forums or blogs that houses them, because they often become anti- Masonic instruments and nobody can check the quality of the interlocutors members,
- Creation of a website for the uninitiated and a different one for the Obedience.
Finally, it was desired to implement an inter-obedience site showing the guidelines to follow to create the best dynamic between us. Also to produce guidelines of "good practice" available to all. For the care of the future of this conference committee!
As one participant noted : our sites influence our readers and therefore they affect our personal lives. We must be aware that our communication is global and that it cannot be restricted to the organization that has produced it.