Forum Summary: Finding Good News

Author: Ryan Price | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22

Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

Luke 21:36 tells us that we are to watch and pray always. 

To “watch”, in part, means we have to be keeping up with the news and learning about the affairs of our world. But are we learning about our world from a Biblical perspective, or are we letting other influences shape our understanding? For the forum this week the director of Living Education, Mr. Jonathan McNair, explained that while we live in an age full of news sources, an increase in information comes with an increase in misinformation. Mr. McNair explained that there is a three-fold challenge in determining the reliability of the news sources we listen to and provided four strategies for meeting it.

The Three-fold Challenge

The first aspect of this challenge is that every news source has its bias. To illustrate this point, Mr. McNair had the students look at a variety of current news headlines from various right and left-leaning news outlets. By comparing the phrasing of the headlines alone, the students could determine the political leanings of the outlet. Mr. McNair explained that all people have biases and buy into that which supports their point of view. We must be careful to not fall into this trap. 

Another aspect to consider is whether the news is accurate. With so many different sources of information out there, news networks must compete to grab your attention. Sometimes a network will embellish and exaggerate the news to generate more traffic to their website or channel. 

The final question to ask is “am I getting the whole picture?” A news outlet may leave out information to support their stance, or even just by mistake. It’s impossible to cover every aspect of an event as it unfolds. So, now that we know the challenge, how do we meet it?

Four Strategies for Navigating the News Media Maze

1. Understand the System

As was previously mentioned, our whole news system is geared toward getting attention. It’s all about getting the “scoop” first, even at the expense of accuracy. We need to be wary and take eye-catching headlines and attention-grabbing articles with a grain of salt.

2. Know the Source

So much news is duplicated from an original source and finding the source can give us a clearer picture. But even then, we must be watching for any biases that the source may have.

3. Know the Perspective of the Source

Everyone has their own biases and perspective. Even “fact-based” news has its leanings. No reporter or news analyst is completely objective, and their values often come through in tone if not in the words they use.

4. Know Yourself

Your age, background, country, and values will affect your worldview. We must understand that some outlets use these aspects to emotionally manipulate us onto their side. It’s a tactic used by both sides of the political spectrum.

Final Recommendations

Mr. McNair ended the forum with a couple of recommendations on how to apply this knowledge. He suggested that when watching or reading the news, don’t just stick to one outlet with one point of view. By using multiple news sources while acknowledging their biases, we can still get valuable information. As an example, Mr. McNair explained that while science magazines might be biased toward evolution, we can still gain valuable scientific information from them. Varying the type of news we take in can give us a more balanced view of world events. However, we need to be careful of getting too caught up in the biases and politics of the world. A vital point to remember is that as Christians, we are not to focus on being right or left-leaning, but unified in the body of Christ