Monday, January 7, 2008

A Healthy Fear?

I have been working at the church now for about 14 months. Before that, I used to work here. And before that, I used to work here.

If you followed those links, or even moused over them to see what the address was, you know my current job is in a much different industry than my previous two.

Since getting out of the newspaper business, I have had a chance to see what people outside that industry think of the news media. There have been several occasions where my church has been involved in some news stories and it's been very interesting for me to watch how the staff has handled it.

Two times in the past week there has been interaction with local news outlets and it's got me a little intrigued. The staff here seems to go on the defensive whenever somebody from the media makes contact. It's as if there's some kind of fear of being misrepresented - which I totally understand.

As a whole, Christianity takes a beating almost daily in the media so it's no surprise that my church is a little wary of things being printed or broadcast about us.

My feelings are quite biased, I'm well aware, but I truly believe most media outlets (at least the local ones) are not out to get the Christians. I believe they're just trying to tell the stories they see going on around them.

So, this is a post seeking your feedback. I know there are a few people from the newspaper business who read this blog, and some who have no experience in that field at all. That should make for a nice mix.

I just want to know how you feel about the media, as it relates to your faith and your church. Should the church be wary of reporters? Should the church allow cameras inside it's walls? Where does this fear come from? Do you believe the news media is trying to tell the true stories, or do they have an agenda?

I'm looking forward to your responses!


Rob said...

Tough question, Dan. I think quite a bit of it depends on the heart and motive of the reporter. I thought the story on 16 last night covered it well, with the reporter even ending her piece with talking about prayer during the "throw-back" to the anchor. I worked in TV in Fort Wayne before coming back here. I worked with some fine Christian reporters who treated stories like that with respect, if not opportunities to witness and share their faith. Unfortunately, I also knew some that jumped at the chance to try to discredit and divide pastors and churches. Sadly, "crap" sells much better than the "feel good" stuff, and some will do anything to get ahead. I think it's hard to give an answer that covers all media.

(Sheez, that was a long comment, wasn't it?

Becky said...

I'm pretty naive, but I think we live in an area that is generally "Christian-friendly". A belief in God is a more culturally accepted "norm" around here. There is a church on every corner. Because of this, local news would probably be a bit more skeptical about bashing the church - the backlash could be scary.
Caution on a national level is a completely different story...and a necessity.
As far as church being on the defensive concerning the recent interaction with the news...I think everyone becomes accutely more aware of how they look or come across when it comes to being "put on record"...
I just know if they interviewed me I'd probably make a fool of myself. I'd definately be offensively planning my strategy if I knew about it ahead of time.

Lynette said...

In my experience there, I didn't think the media was out to disparage the Christians. While people will blame the media for being liberal, it's often because of what they see in the opinion section. I think the local newspapers tried to cover all religions represented in the area. Now on a larger scale, I sometimes feel the television reporters on national shows want to make Christians look bad. Their tone of voice can say a lot. I think people forget how hard it is to be objective though. I believe the reason you hear so many crass opinions in newsrooms is because they're not supposed to put them in the paper. I honestly work in a more non-Christian newsroom here than I did in South Bend. It has surprised me and challenged me to be a good witness. :-)

Rachel said...

interesting, because i work both with a newspaper and with my church right now. i think overall the media tries to be fair, at least print media, but i do know that our judgement on stories is blinded by the "if it bleeds, it leads" philosophy, which means they want a meaty story. i think working with the church has opened me up to realizing just how paranoid christians are of representation in the media; the media is not generally viewed as a positive christian environment, but rather a slew of immoralists out only for themselves with rarely an apology for a mistake. i get a lot of flack for being a "journalist" because many think it has to jeopardize my christianity, like i can't be a "good" christian and be in the journalism field. i believe the christians i know who are in the field honestly try to present the most accurate, non-biased stories.