Canon Dr Owen Spencer-Thomas, MBE, is journalist, writer and broadcaster. He spent nearly twenty years as a television and radio news journalist and was senior reporter on Anglia News and Anglia TV’s regional magazine programme About Anglia. In addition, he also presented the late night religious programme Reflections on Anglia Television. Before that, he was a regular contributor to You and Yours and Sunday programmes on BBC Radio 4. Owen also presented religious and ethics programmes on Thames Television and Southern Television. He has reported for Independent Television News.
Before entering full-time broadcasting, he was Director of the London Churches’ Radio Workshop. This produced programmes for local radio and trained clergy and other Church leaders to appear on television and radio. He joined BBC Radio London as religious producer in 1976 where he designed and presented a range of new programmes. Among these were two radio phone-in programmes. One of these was Your Call. Another was Sounding Brass, in which listeners requested their favourite music from a live brass band in the radio station’s famous Marylebone High Street studio.
Owen became Director of Communications for the Diocese of Ely in 2001. This included the role of Press Officer to the Bishop as well as handling media enquiries on behalf of the Diocese. His responsibilities also involved generating a range of opportunities for the Church in broadcasting and the press.
He edited the Ely Ensign, the monthly news magazine for the Diocese, from 2002 until 2006. Since retiring from this post in March 2011, he continues to work as a freelance writer and broadcaster. He has written a range of useful articles which are published on the Ely diocesan website and on this site. Ordained in the Diocese of London in 1972/73, he has wide experience in the field of communications and in particular with television and radio broadcasting.
Owen served his curacy at St Luke’s Church Redcliffe Square, London and was also Lecturer in Religious Studies at the South Kensington Institute. He has been resident in Ely diocese since 1978. In the Parish of the Ascension, Cambridge, he assists as honorary team priest and has held several school chaplaincies. He was also Chaplain to Christ’s College, in the University of Cambridge, for four and a half years until 31st December 2001. Owen became acting Dean of Clare College, Cambridge, during the Lent Term 2005 and acting Dean of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, during the Easter Term 2006. He was made an Honorary Canon of Ely Cathedral in February 2004.
Born in East Hertfordshire, Owen comes from a farming background. After attending Christ Church Cathedral Choir School, Oxford, from the age of eight, he continued his education as a teenager at Ardingly College, West Sussex. He studied at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester. Before going to Westcott House and Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge to study theology in 1970, Owen graduated in sociology at The Polytechnic, Regent Street, (now the University of Westminster). While he was there he helped to establish its Students’ Union. He became its first elected President, a sabbatical post, in 1966. In 1967, he was one of the principal organisers of the successful nationwide campaign to reverse the Government’s decision to impose a fourfold increase in overseas students’ fees.
He is a member of British Equity, The Royal Television Society and The National Union of Journalists. In addition, he belongs to The Society of Teachers of Speech and Drama. He became a member of British Mensa in 1980. The University of Westminster awarded him a Doctor of Letters (DLitt) in January 2010.
He was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the Queen’s 2008 New Year Honours for his services to the community and journalism.
Owen is married to Maggie and they have three adult children. He led a successful regionwide fundraising campaign which led to the establishment of the first specialised accommodation and day care for adults with autism in Cambridgeshire.
Resources for a journalist’s toolkit
If you are a practising journalist, media studies student or just wanting to get your story into the public domain, my professional website will be of interest. It contains a wide range of useful articles. They include an essay on Fake News which I’m currently expanding to include the threat it poses to free debate. I’ve recently updated a comprehensive article on News Values. This discusses how journalists decide which news stories to publish. I first compiled it in 1999. My website also contains a range of useful media tips for anyone working in the changing world of news journalism. For those of you wanting to get your story into the media, I recently updated a page on Writing a press release.