Christians Need to Shed Media Hostility
After encountering a pastor recently who questioned my motives for contacting him (maybe to get his side of the story?) for a magazine feature, I am more convinced than ever that Christians need to take some chill pills and shed their media hostility.
The church seems to often swallow the same hysteria consumed by the general public. I’m not sure if it’s social media rumors gone mad or the general state of the modern topsy-turvy world. Whatever, we need to take seriously Christ’s words: “In the world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 MEV).
Now, when it comes to the news media, I understand the fears people have of being misquoted or having their comments misconstrued. It happens.
Still, I think far too many professing to know the peace of the Lord approach life with their suspicion antennae up, ready to strike back at whomever they think is ready to do them harm.
This impression was strengthened by a recent article in the online edition of Christianity Today. Written by journalist Jon Ward, it was headlined: “Being a Political Journalist Made Me a Better Christian.”
“As I’ve worked on a book about growing up evangelical and then becoming a mainstream journalist, one thing has become increasingly clear to me: Being a journalist has actually made me a better Christian,” Ward wrote.
Ward, who started his career at The Washington Times and is now with Yahoo! News, makes a number of excellent points. To put some in my own words:
- Too many believers swallow a daily dose of media hostility, blindly believing slogans used by insincere leaders who seek to slant the truth to their own ends.
“Conservative Christians are far more hostile toward the media now than they were when I was growing up,” Ward wrote. “In fact, most people don’t like the media—and that’s bad for society.”
- Digging for the truth is a much tougher job than most people can imagine.
Everywhere one turns as a journalist, Christian or not, one encounters people who are hostile to any version of the facts other than those that fit their preconceived notions.
Some are just downright angry that you are doing a story, like the high-placed official who once asked me why the magazine was even interested in the issue I contacted him about. Well, to start with, the subject of the story was accused (and in one case, convicted) of writing phony investment contracts across Europe.
“There are many constraints that make it harder for most people to pursue truth today—and yet being a journalist has freed and equipped me to do just that,” Ward said.
“Journalism is one of the few circles in which speaking up against one’s own group, against groupthink in one’s own culture, is generally encouraged and rewarded. It is far more valued than in most other tribes.”
Hostility to Media Spin
- While one can find cases of media bias, most journalists are motivated by a search for truth.
I still remember the Christian college leader embroiled in a church-state legal battle. After we talked, he asked, “So what’s your spin on this?”
“None,” I replied.
As Ward put it, the more one stands outside political powers, parties, and groups, the more one is free to pursue the truth. And the more one pursues truth, the more one will see many areas for constructive critique at every point alongside the ideological aisle.
To put it in Jesus’s words: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32).