Or: How do we use the mass-media?
News is business. For the large newspapers and broadcasters, it is of vital importance to be able to draw the attention of their readers by reporting on something new, something that stands out from the rest.
Newspapers need readers. Broadcasters want people to watch their shows. That is how they make money. And it is all about money, isn’t it?
If there are times that there is not much noteworthy in the news, then these media outlets don’t hesitate to make news. What is unimportant becomes front page news.
If that was the only problem with the mass media, then it wasn’t so bad at all. Then we could happily read those newspapers and watch their shows, knowing that they are all reporting the news, even though not everything they tell us may be important.
However, besides making money, news outlets usually have other goals. They often use the position they have as news provider to try and influence the minds of their readers. Newspapers hire journalists to report or comment on the news. These journalists have their own ideas about what should happen and often hope to win over their readers to their viewpoint. This determines not only how they report on the news, but even what they report. What is important for a Christian journalist, may not be important at all for a socialist journalist. Someone with certain thoughts about climate change will report and interpret news differently than those who have opposite ideas.
Should we, for that reason, not make use of any media outlet that does not promote the Biblical view on the developments in this world?
Ideally, we would have our own reformed newspaper, with our own reformed reporters and journalists. We would report on everything that is important for our readers. Let us be honest: that is and will probably remain a dream for the foreseeable future.
But even if it would be possible to have our own reformed media outlets, then still, it would be important to take note of what lives in this world. We are placed in this world to testify to this world about the hope that is in us. In order to be able to connect with people in this world, we must know what they think. In order to be able to respond to all those who ask us to give an account of that hope, we must be able to understand their way of thinking.
Nevertheless, it certainly is good if we can receive guidance in how to use the media in this world. Blindly believing all what the media present to us, can be detrimental to our life as Christians.
We need the media of this world, to get our information about what is going on in the world, but we do not need their biases. While making use of the media, we should try to filter out most, if not all, of those biases. The only way to do that, is being aware of them and correcting for them.
One way of doing that is, using multiple media outlets to get your information. News will be reported on differently by different media outlets. Nowadays it is easy to use many different outlets, because they all have a presence on the internet as well.
It is important to understand how many media outlets are connected. For instance, ‘The Australian’ is part of the same group as ‘Herald Sun’, ‘the Telegraph’ and ‘news.com.au’. They are all part of the ‘News Corp Australia’. Then we also have ‘Fairfax Media’ syndication, to which belong the ‘WAToday’, ‘the Sydney Morning Herald’ and ‘The Age’. And the ‘West Australian’, ‘Perth Now’ and ‘Sunday Times’ are all part of the ‘Seven West Media’.
For international news, it may be helpful to make use of media in other countries as well. Again, with internet it is so easy to check out how the news is being reported in the USA, or in Canada, in Europe, or even in Russia. It may also be refreshing how journalists in those countries look at our own dear Australia.
From time to time we hope to publish an analysis of certain news media. We will focus on either one specific news outlet and analyze how this outlet reports the news, or we will take one or a couple of news items and research how it is being reported on in different media, in Australia and worldwide.