A recent headline that isn’t exactly news announced the findings of a recent Gallup study: “Americans Remain Distrustful of Mass Media.” Six out of ten Americans trust the media either “not very much” or “not at all” when it comes to reporting the news fairly and accurately.
Truth be told, I’m among those six. I’m tired of bias, of opinion pieces masquerading as reporting, of buried leads and hysterical fearmongering. Apparently, many Americans are tired of these things, too. Last year, a major news network flashed this caption, “Fiery but mostly peaceful protests after police shooting,” as its reporter stood in front of buildings that were burning to the ground. Last week, America’s paper of record ran a glowing piece on freedom in China, where people may not have freedom of religion, speech, or assembly but enjoy going to nightclubs thanks to their dictator’s handling of COVID. And don’t get even get me started on the news coverage of the events this week.
Watching or reading different news sources today is like watching and reading about completely different worlds. If aliens landed in America tomorrow, they’d have no idea what the truth is about this country. They wouldn’t even be able to report back to their leaders about whether or not actress Tanya Roberts had died or not!
That last little anecdote brings up another challenge we all face: the sheer volume of noise we are forced to navigate. The Washington Post alone publishes an average of 500 news stories every single day. Add to that The New York Times, The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, FoxNews, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, not to mention the ever-present and sometimes-tempting clickbait everywhere, and the noise is simply overwhelming.
More and more, Americans have turned to social media and news aggregators out of sheer desperation. These tools do offer help navigating the volume, but they don’t offer wisdom. Increasingly, these tools become echo chambers. Recently, Pew Research found that nearly half of Americans are unable to determine whether their news sources do their own original reporting.
We must bear in mind what Paul said in his speech to the Athenians in Acts 17: God intentionally places us all in particular times and particular places in history. Engaged, thoughtful Christians must not only stay informed about those trends, issues, and stories that truly matter, they must discern between those that matter and those that don’t. And that’s not all. We also somehow have to navigate the constant worldview spins we are subjected to by media sources.
Chuck Colson first founded BreakPoint to illustrate that this sort of worldview analysis of contemporary events was not only possible but necessary and incredibly helpful. Let me be clear: We cannot do this work, which we love, without the help of faithful partners. One of the most critical partners we have in this task is the WORLD News Group and WORLD magazine. WORLD is a critical source of news and thoughtful analysis. The BreakPoint team relies on it.
WORLD does journalism from a Christian worldview without the click-bait and without the hype. Their print magazine, online articles, and daily podcast, “The World and Everything in It” (which I join weekly as a guest commentator) features clear reporting, news coverage of stories that matter, and a recognition of the central role of faith and religion in contemporary society.
This month, any gift of $19 or more to BreakPoint and the Colson Center, provides a one-year subscription to WORLD magazine that you can keep for yourself or gift to a friend or family member. So, if you already subscribe to WORLD, and I hope you do, you can bless someone else with a resource you know they will enjoy and can rely on.
Come to BreakPoint.org/January2021 to get a one-year subscription to WORLD with your next gift to BreakPoint and the Colson Center.
This commentary originally aired on January 8, 2021.
Colson Center | 2021
WORLD | 2021
Kirsten Worden & Michael Barthel | Pew Research Center | December 8, 2020
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