My grandmother use to say that if you read it in the newspaper it was true. This use to worry me since Nana use to read only one paper: The National Inquirer. News in its many forms does have an effect on what our culture believes and how we think. Whether it is network, cable, headline, print, or it’s on radio, the news has a powerful effect on people’s trust and even on how they vote. The mainstream’s influence on the 2004 Presidential election may have made the final percentage a little closer than if the networks weren’t so biased in their coverage.
Many people feel that Christian Broadcasters should stay out of the news business. The attitude is “How could Christian’s compete with the likes of the networks let alone CNN and Fox News? Of course many had the same attitude before the first Persian Gulf War when the upstart CNN scooped the networks time and again. At the 2004 National Religious Broadcasters convention the argument about how Christian Broadcasters handle news was brought up at a special workshop. It was the emergence of the new Christian Emergency Network. The pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Ted Haggard was critical of Christian news agencies:
“I listen to CNN, CNN Headlines newsÃ¢Â?Â¦I don’t listen to Christian Radio for long term news. I listen to news that has a feed- top of the hour news. I’m suspect to Christian news because of its inaccuracies- and bias- so sometimes you can’t trust Christian Radio – given to their point of view. Thinking needs to be better. Look at the Y2K issue-
We are selling all of our scrub landsÃ¢Â?Â¦”
Haggard is right – we are called to report truth and should be better equipped than the secular journalist is . After all, if we are the source we have the source of truth then our task as Christians in media is to report the truth Journalism is a field in which Christian’s have to be involved in impacting the world.
Haggard talks about the news source that no one goes to- The Christian Missionary: “The weapons we as Christian Broadcasters – we have better resources- if we will access them.” The great reporter and New York Times editor Scotty Reston once said that “Journalism is a craft in which one’s mistakes and misjudgments are visible to all. It is truly a high wire act, often performed before a very large audience.” As Christians it seems it may be appropriate for us to be journalists since this world is not our home- and this enables us to see the world in its purest form and report on it. The accountability is tremendous- if you cheat -you’re going to get caught- Look at Dan Rather and his Rather gate. As Christians I think it is easy to be a journalist. This world is not our home-and so we are able to see the word in it’s purest form-and report on it.
Haggard reinforces it by saying, “Freedom of the Press is and should be, the greatest protector we have.”
Haggard is serious about Christianity’s impact on the media. As a leader of a large church there are groups that pray for, minister to, and reach out to the media. The impact of news on our culture is increasing and so Christians in media must be as savvy as network executives and remain as innocent as doves.