Editorial: Christian journalism means truth-seeking
OKLAHOMA CITY — Jerry Mitchell is a Christian and a…
Jon Ward, chief national correspondent for Yahoo! News, writes in an essay for Christianity Today that his profession has made him a better Christian.
Ward knows many of his fellow Christians may find that hard to believe:
Conservative Christians are far more hostile toward the media now than they were when I was growing up. Some of my own family members have told me I should be ashamed of myself for doing my job. In fact, most people don’t like the media — and that’s bad for society. The media shares some of the blame for that, as I’ve written recently for Yahoo! News.
But he explains the profession’s role in his own life:
Journalism has empowered many of the most noble, the most Christian elements of my character. I have been discipled for two decades in how to discern what is true and false, and — probably more importantly — how to discern when there are no easy answers or solutions. I have been trained in pursuing truth without regard to whom it offends.
I have also been given a sense of humility about what we can know for sure and how often we need to acknowledge that our point of view is limited and incomplete. This is sometimes called “epistemological modesty,” and it is a quality that we badly need more of in our discourse.
Hey dude, you’re preaching to the choir (if we had those in Churches of Christ).
Seriously, I authored a recent Christian Chronicle editorial that focused on the faith of one of my journalistic heroes: Jerry Mitchell, a Mississippi investigative reporter whose stories helped put four Klansmen and a serial killer behind bars.
From that editorial:
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.
“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.”
Regular Weekend Plug-in readers may recall my 2020 take on the gap between the news media and people of faith. It’s still relevant.
Several years ago, I asked NBC’s Lester Holt if it’s hard to be a person of faith in his role. I still remember his response:
“I think there’s a connotation that we’re the liberal, atheist media,” Holt said. “And I know a lot of people in this business who are people of faith — maybe not this specific faith that I share, but people who believe in God and follow their faith. So I don’t find it hard.
“In fact, I find in many ways that this job is a blessing, in that as a journalist, I really get to see life in all its permutations. … I see death. I see people going through the depth of tragedy, and I see people going through the highest of things. It just reminds you of how short life is … and I think it’s the kind of thing that in many ways is faith-affirming.”
Sarah Pulliam Bailey, a high-profile Washington Post religion reporter, has written about how she was “raised in both a religious home and a newspaper home”:
My parents would pull out books for Bible study in the morning and plop them next to the local newspaper. The Bible and newspaper went together like cereal and milk. I grew up believing journalism was a noble profession because the best journalism is based on the relentless pursuit of truth.
BOBBY ROSS JR. is Editor-in-Chief of The Christian Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected].
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