Christian journalists: seeking and reporting the Truth

Today and more than ever, people fear being censored for speaking the truth, especially when the truth does not agree with the narrative perpetuated by the majority stakeholders. Our academic environment is ever more intolerant to differences in opinions. Whether one has a liberal or conservative bent, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly are very precious rights and freedoms in a liberal democracy or democratic republic.

If we do not defend these freedoms, we will all lose out in the end. End result: no one will have the freedom to speak the truth. We need to stand together to defend these freedoms, even if we do not always agree with everything the other says. The common denominator must always be to speak the truth, and to abide by a professional code of ethics as journalists. Otherwise, a free and democratic society will be weakened. A strong democratic republic depends on ethical journalism.

As a Christian, I was taught in church and from my parents to tell the truth, even when it’s not convenient. I remember many opportunities to fudge a little, to bend the truth when it wasn’t convenient to provide the full truth. I know, as a young person, as a student, as a young adult, as a colleague in work places, the opportunity to shift the truth a little to the left or right was always there.

To tell the honest to God truth was not always easy. It even hurt me to tell the full truth. I lost respect when I told them the truth. I also lost some self-respect, and respect from others when I did fudge the truth a little. I might be too open here in my post. I admit it—-I am not perfect and will never be perfect. I am always prone to falling into temptation as long as I am a human being.

This corruption of innate/original sin exists in every person, even in those who are redeemed by the blood of Jesus. Every person of every religion, persuasion, creed and color, has within him- or herself an inner dark side. We need redemption, or simply put, forgiveness of original sin and of sins we commit each day. That is why I am a believer in Jesus Christ who provides me confidence to start fresh each day.

As a young adult, I used to be an avid reader of news. In recent years, my faith in mass media and journalism has waned. Distrust in the mainstream media has seeped into my consciousness. In my university days, one of my professors used to work as a reporter and editor for the New York Times. He emphasized good journalism and seeking and speaking the truth. He was one of the most admired teachers at the school but is now deceased. He is a rare gem these days.

Truth is something we still need to strive for. As journalists and people who work in media, the temptation to fudge the truth is glaring. This temptation haunts every journalist who claims impartiality in the world of a free press. As I observe a daily dose of news in the media and free press, I see much misinformation and disinformation. Lies perpetuates more lies and other falsities in our world. When this happens, it also perpetuates anger, frustration and dissatisfaction. Sad.

As people who seek truth, we need to seek the truth. Journalism schools requires people who are seekers of truth. Several bible verses are a good reminder of the importance of speaking the truth.

Have I not written thirty sayings for you, sayings of counsel and knowledge, teaching you to be honest and to speak the truth, so that you bring back truthful reports to those you serve?

Proverbs 22:20-21, NIV, Holy Bible

“Gird your sword on your side, you mighty one; clothe yourself with splendor and majesty. In your majesty ride forth victoriously in the cause of truth, humility and justice; let your right hand achieve awesome deeds.”

Psalm 45:3-4, NIV, Holy Bible

If you are a Christian journalist or a Christian looking at a career in journalism, one needs to stay in the light and continue in God’s grace and mercy because the temptation to bend the truth always exists.

Editors will force you to bend the truth to fit the narrative of what they want. News editors will be forced by the corporate heads and governments to remove important pieces of information and provide mis- and disinformation in order to sway public opinion. We need good ethics and morality. These are good but rare virtues these days where journalism sometimes seem more akin to state and corporate sponsored propaganda outlets.

If one wants to succeed in disseminating truth in journalism, then for God’s sake, remain in the vine and be in tune with God’s Holy Spirit. Allow truth to guide your writing, speaking and editing. May God’s Spirit of truth penetrate into the hearts and minds of every editor, journalist, media, news reporter and columnist. May God be with you always, and in your endeavors in seeking and speaking the truth.

Society of Professional Journalists, Code of Ethics: https://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

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