Monday, April 4, 2011

Bible and Newspaper?

Word4Life is a ministry committed to explaining truth, with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. That is, the aim of this weekly note is to explain how the truth of God relates to the world in which we live.
For many people in a place like Australia the newspaper speaks the truth, while the Bible is at best a quaint, irrelevant but historically interesting religious book. I can leave the defence of the Bible for another day, but today just let me rattle the cage a little about the fact that we might all be a little better off if we had a little bit less faith in newspapers.
Newspapers are still bought physically by the millions of people each day and are now increasingly read online as well. They are trusted, quoted and in many ways still set the media cycle. But anybody who has had any personal experience knows just how inaccurate, biased, ill-informed and at times corrupt they really are.
"Corrupt? Surely that's a bit harsh", you may be thinking. 
Newspapers are corporate entities often owned by large, profit making companies. In the past there has rightly been concern that the powerful owners of these newspapers have used their papers to push political and social agendas. It still happens. Murdoch's papers still read as Murdoch papers.  Advertising is the lifeblood of these operations and editorials and advertising are not always completely separate. The colour supplements that fill up the average newspaper are not about information but about advertising. The profit motive is probably better than having state owned newspapers, but those motives colour what we read.
Saddest of all in modern newspapers is the fact that the profit motive is squeezing journalism on all fronts, such that journalists increasingly do not have the time to research, check facts and really understand an issue. It's much simpler to just re-work a press release or a story from other news services.
In many ways online news is more disturbing, even in the supposedly reasoned broadsheet newspapers. Click on your favourite newspaper any time of the day and there are increasing numbers of pictures of beautiful people (mostly women), with an inordinate number of stories that in some way mention sex. The reason is simply that, not surprisingly, we are tempted to click on these stories and read more. The old page three girl has given way to a media that is trivialized by glamour and what draws the eyes to see. 
I still remain committed to the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.
I just don’t want to give the impression that they are in any way equal. 
“For,  “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.”  1Peter 1: 24-25

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