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Editorial: Christian journalism means truth-seeking

Sometimes the truth is positive and inspiring. Sometimes the truth is negative and concerning.

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Jerry Mitchell is a Christian and a journalist.

To some readers in a hyperpartisan age, that description may sound like an oxymoron.

But Mitchell is a devoted follower of Christ. He’s a 1982 graduate of Harding University, a Christian university in Searcy, Ark. He’s a leader and Bible teacher in his home congregation, the Skyway Hills Church of Christ in Pearl, Miss.

At the same time, this man of deep Christian faith is a legendary Mississippi reporter.


Related: The humble faith of Jerry Mitchell, an American hero


His stories helped put four Klansmen and a serial killer behind bars. His long-awaited memoir, “Race Against Time: A Reporter Reopens the Unsolved Murder Cases of the Civil Rights Era,” was published last year.

The Christian Chronicle’s staff and national board of trustees were blessed earlier this month when Mitchell traveled to Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City. At the board’s semiannual meeting, he spoke about news coverage of difficult topics.

Jerry Mitchell, third from left, visits The Christian Chronicle’s office in Oklahoma City. Mitchell is the founder of the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting. Also pictured, from left, are Audrey Jackson, the Chronicle’s associate editor; Erik Tryggestad, president and CEO; and Bobby Ross Jr., editor-in-chief.

Jerry Mitchell, third from left, visits The Christian Chronicle’s office in Oklahoma City. Mitchell is the founder of the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting. Also pictured, from left, are Audrey Jackson, the Chronicle’s associate editor; Erik Tryggestad, president and CEO; and Bobby Ross Jr., editor-in-chief.

Mitchell recalled that a radio show host asked him once, “How can you be a Christian and a journalist?”

He was ready with a response.

“We’re actually both truth-seekers,” Mitchell told the Chronicle’s staff and board. “The thing about God’s word is, it doesn’t pull any punches. You get to see what Moses did, and you get to see what David did. And I think that’s kind of how I see journalism.


Related: Evangelical Press Association honors Christian Chronicle as top print newspaper


“We just kind of tell it like it is,” he explained. “We certainly do it out of love. We don’t do it out of spite or anything like that.”

Here at the Chronicle, we endeavor to report real news that honors God. Telling the truth, we believe, honors God. Sometimes the truth is positive and inspiring. Sometimes the truth is negative and concerning.

Flawed men inspired by God wrote the Bible. Well-meaning but imperfect journalists produce the Chronicle. 

We do our best to tell stories in ways that enhance understanding and contribute to constructive dialogue. For times when we have not lived up to those ideals, we ask for forgiveness. We commit to do better.

We love our fellow Christians and agonize over coverage of certain stories, but we make no apology for holding leaders, congregations and institutions of Churches of Christ to a high standard. 

We believe in light and truth.

Here are three things we believe:

We believe in light and truth. We believe in exposing wrongdoing and abuse. We believe denial and coverup of problems hurt the church far more than any negative publicity. God is all-knowing and all-powerful. He can handle his own PR.

We believe in fairness and accuracy. We believe in giving all sides an adequate opportunity to state their case, particularly in controversial stories. We believe in providing relevant context for readers to understand a particular issue or scenario. We believe in correcting mistakes when we, as all humans do, make them.

We believe in Christian journalism. We believe well-told stories can inform, inspire and unite our fellowship. We believe insightful series — such as our recently launched “Where have all the churches gone?” project — can help church members and leaders make better decisions to reach a lost world. We believe in the power of the written word to help transform people of faith.

Like Jerry Mitchell, we want to be truth-seekers.

Thank you for your prayers and support. 

BOBBY ROSS JR. is Editor-in-Chief of The Christian Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected].

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Filed under: Christian Chronicle Christian journalism civil rights era Editorial Inside Story Jerry Mitchell journalism journalism and churches of christ light and truth Mississippi Opinion The Christian Chronicle Top Stories

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