Thursday, December 31, 2020

You Are Responsible for the News You Take In

As we close out this year, some thoughts on the way we process news stories... in hopes that we can move toward a world that reflects Zechariah 8:16-17 (AMP):
These are the things which you should do: speak the truth with one another; judge with truth and pronounce the judgment that brings peace in [the courts at] your gates. And let none of you devise or even imagine evil in your heart against another, and do not love lying or half-truths; for all these things I hate, declares the Lord.
BTW, the thoughts below apply regardless of political position or religious belief... 


Every news outlet has a worldview. 

That's not actually a problem. Your job as a news consumer is to know their worldview and process the stories they report in light of those biases and loyalties. 

The words "breaking news" should remind you that this news story is being reported 'on the fly' and may have accuracy problems, even from the best news sources.

Quality reporting takes time. Hot takes do not. Don't put too much faith in early reporting. 

Headlines never tell the whole story.


Headlines in our Internet-based news world are designed to grab eyeballs and clicks... and not to inform you about what actually happened or give context that helps clarify the level of importance of that news. 

Quality journalism may not have an exciting picture attached to it.

It's hard to tell an important story about economic conditions or political gamesmanship - nothing is on fire and there's not a chalk outline of a body. That means you should not judge the significance of a story if it doesn't have "on the scene" video or a stunning picture.

Everybody takes good & bad photos... using the ugliest pictures of people possible is a cheap way to signal your bias.

"You can't judge a book by its cover"... nor can you judge the soundness of an idea or the content of a speech by the unflattering picture of the person advancing those ideas.

There is a profound gap between news organizations reporting the same facts with different interpretations... and dismissing or hiding facts in order to bolster their particular point of view.

This means you need to intake news from a variety of sources in order to spot those holes... and refrain from discounting news just because the news source has a different worldview from your own.

Punditry is not news. 

Many outlets do not properly label editorial content as such - make sure you're paying attention. Don't trust pundits as news sources.

Memes are not news.

They lack context and are primarily intended to signal other individuals of a "tribe" that the individual posting them is part of the group - mostly by dunking on "the other side". Don't trust them as news sources.

Quality journalism is going to challenge you.

And that's a good thing. As a follower of Jesus, I need to welcome truth, even when it's difficult. 

Final Thoughts

  • Just because you like what a particular news source reports doesn't make it true.
  • Just because you hate what a particular news source reports doesn't make it a lie.
  • Just because you want a news story to be true doesn't make it true.
  • Just because you long for a news story to be false doesn't make it a lie.