An erosion of trust in the American secular news media continues. A September poll by Gallup revealed Americans’ trust in the media to report the news fully, accurately and fairly has fallen to just 36 percent, making this year’s reading the second lowest since Gallup began polling the matter in 1972. Only seven percent of U.S. adults say they have “a great deal” of trust in newspapers, television and radio news reporting.
This is a dangerous development for a democratic republic like the United States. Our nation relies on citizens having fair and accurate information so each can make informed decisions come election day. If the media fails in this responsibility, it puts national unity – and ultimately our freedoms – in peril.
Too many news organizations have embraced “advocacy journalism,” in which they are more concerned with advancing a liberal viewpoint rather than reporting facts accurately and fairly. Dishonesty surfaces because news organizations have embraced post-modernism. To them truth is relative, which allows individuals or aggrieved groups to construct their “own truth” through language.
For Christians this is abhorrent, since Jesus said He is The Truth and that we can absolutely know truth. Mathematicians and engineers know truth exists: if one-plus-two equals four, the bridge collapses. To avoid a similar catastrophe, journalism must alter its course.
This has presented an opportunity for Christian journalism and media like The Pathway, WORLD magazine and Bott Radio Network. We demonstrate that a Biblical worldview application to journalism is the remedy. We are guided by the inerrancy, infallibility and sufficiency of Scripture that keeps us grounded in truth, while striving for accuracy and promoting fairness.
One of the most misused terms in journalism is “objectivity.” It is often used as a mistaken synonym for “fairness.” The late John Seigenthaler, legendary editor and publisher of The Nashville Tennessean and founding editorial director of USA Today, once told me that it is impossible to be objective because we all bring our personal views and biases to the table. But every reporter can be fair.
The challenges facing Christian journalism have been the focus of the annual Pathway Retreat held every year.
This gathering of The Pathway’s talented team of freelance writers and columnists was a two-day conference that drew a record 42 writers, students and professionals. Guest speakers included columnist Janie Cheaney of WORLD magazine, Jennifer Rash, editor of The Alabama Baptist, Adam Covington, director of digital content at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Anthony Allen, president of Hannibal-LaGrange University.
The Pathway is a product of “The Conservative Resurgence” in the Southern Baptist Convention and “Project 1000” in the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC). Two decades ago Missouri Baptists dreamed of a day when the convention would once again be united in ministry. That day has arrived and the synergistic energy that exists between your state newspaper and the entities affiliated with the MBC is stronger than ever.
One of the most encouraging developments arising from The Pathway Retreat was the enthusiastic participation of 12 journalism students from all three of the MBC-affiliated universities. In addition, journalism and public relations professionals from all three schools and MBC entities participated. All pledged to work together for the cause of Christ.
Your state newspaper has also become a respected publication throughout Missouri and especially in the halls of government. This gives you a voice before Caesar, while keeping you informed. The Pathway also serves as a reminder – to those in authority – of Romans 13 and the Words of Jesus when He said to Pilate in John 19:11, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.”
Our annual meetings are always a joyous occasion for The Pathway staff and me personally and this year’s event was no exception. It gave all of us the opportunity to share ideas and enjoy a sweet time of fellowship. It was a blessing to visit with everyone who stopped by The Pathway exhibit.
Twenty years ago, God called me to Missouri. He told me He was going to do something – and He has. The Pathway, which started with zero circulation in 2002, is now the fourth-largest paid circulated newspaper in Missouri with an estimated print and digital readership of 60,000. Thank you for your prayers and support. We promise to honor Jesus and the work He is accomplishing through the churches of the MBC.
God bless you and thanks for reading!