Written by Emma Jones
I am a leadership and ministry major. That’s not my primary major, and I don’t plan to go into ministry for my career, but the intention of my second major is meant to bolster my faith and biblical knowledge and better equip me to serve Christ in whatever field I end up in. So why do people question the validity of me being both a journalism and Bible major?
Soon after I added my second major, I was introduced to an elder at the church I was attending. He asked what I was studying, and when I told him journalism and Bible he gave a very smart aleck response about how those two majors can’t work together. Look, I get it, you don’t like the Media. You think the coverage of issues you care about is unfair. You see articles that don’t align with your political views, and student journalists in turn get a bad rap. I agree that a lot of the media in the United States has become very divisive and inflammatory. For this column, however, I would like to focus on the heart of journalism, as it was meant to be and not how it currently is, and how I believe its core values reflect Christianity.
The following elements I will discuss are taken from “Essays About ‘The Elements of Journalism,’” a publication from the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.
Journalism’s first obligation is to tell the truth. It can be difficult to specifically define what truth really is, but we are encouraged in Ephesians 6 when strapping on the armor of God to “fasten on the belt of truth,” so that we “may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11 and 6:14). Paul considered the truth an important tool in our arsenals as Christians.
Journalism’s first loyalty is to citizens. Proverbs 3:27 says, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” Those in the journalism field are in a position of power to help spread the truth and bring awareness to issues that affect citizens.
Journalists must serve as an independent monitor of power. Jeremiah 22:3 says, “Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed.” Journalists have a responsibility to monitor the powerful few in society on behalf of the many to guard against oppression.
Journalism must provide a forum for public criticism and comment. During his ministry, Jesus was always open to hear the opinions of the people he was preaching to — like in Luke 10:25-26 when a lawyer tries to put him to the test by asking how to inherit eternal life. Jesus responds with, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”
Journalists must make the significant interesting and relevant. Journalists must make big news events easy to understand, even if they cover difficult topics. As Christians we are called to spread the gospel in ways that people will understand, and to guide biblical application to their daily life.
Journalists have an obligation to personal conscience. Our doctrine calls us to follow a moral code, as Jesus says in Matthew 5:48, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” We have a religious obligation to our moral code, similar to a personal obligation to conscience.
There are a couple more elements that I left out because they cannot be supported as easily, but I believe that it is clear to see that the heart of journalism reflects the truths that we believe as Christians. I think the same can be found for any field of work here at Harding. How can your major be theologically supported? How will you serve Christ through what you are studying?