The Need for Christian Journalists in Africa Part (2)

By Lekan Otufodunrin – This is the second part of the paper presented on behalf of Director of World Journalism Institute, New York , Robert Case II at the Journalists for Christ, Nigeria reception for Belz International Media fellows in Lagos on August 21, 2010

I would argue that the future of American culture and Western civilization depend on whether print and broadcast are reserved only for human speculation and transitory happenings, or whether Christian concerns are given equal time and space in the “public square” (Richard John Neuhous). Take note: I have not mentioned a word about quoting the Bible or evangelism or proselytizing. Only about the universal and abiding concerns of human life.

The fact that our self-revealing God is an abstract, non-sensory reality is not what gives Him a poor press — after all, ephemeral concepts such as “justice,” “love,” “human rights,” “evil,” “hate,” beauty,” “courage” (and much else that makes the news) are also non-sensory concepts. Rather, by reporting only the perverse, wicked, violent, criminal, depressing, chaotic, greedy, random, dangerous, etc. as the decisively real world, the mainstream media help foster an almost purely biased (that is, sensate) misunderstanding of reality (Prov. 13:2-3). That is, the press reports on the theological aspect of the Fall of humankind, and not the equally real aspect of the offer of redemption, thus obscuring hope. A mood of perpetual crises in the temporal socio-politico-economic sphere is nurtured by the press rather than the reality of the eternal spiritual and cosmic control of a kind and purposeful God.

This constant repetition of emotion-laden experiences, which appeals to our sentimental and romantic sinful nature, drives us to harden ourselves against personal sacrificial involvement in society. From a Christian perspective, the mass media denial of spiritual reality, their embracing of moral relativism, and their accommodation of materialist, sensate, and purposeless view of life is wrong headed, and thus destructive to the amelioration of the woes of humankind.

In this age of mass secularized media, the mission of all journalists of faith is to overcome the eclipse of God, and to provide an alternative to the dominant secular mindset in the mainstream newsroom (as well as the tepid and non-discerning Christian newsroom). To this end, the Christian journalist must offer the mainstream newsrooms an alternative at the frontiers of gathering news to accurately, fairly, compellingly report and write the news that is verifiable.

Today’s journalist of faith echoes Samuel Cornish, the early 19th century African-American New York newspaperman (Freedoms’ Journal) and evangelical Presbyterian pastor who wrote in the first edition of his newspaper in March, 1827 that the reason for a African American perspective on the news was that he was tired of the truncated coverage of African-American affairs and that “We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us. Too long has the public been decided by misrepresentations, in things which concern us dearly.”

The journalist who is a Christian can add to the current journalism culture in its appreciation of the existence of another worldview – The historic Christian worldview. To accomplish this remarkable task, the journalist must be epistemologically self-conscious about his/her faith. The journalist of faith may be called to “stand in the gap” (Ezekiel 22:30) and to be “watchman” for our society.

God’s providential fingerprints and footprints are on everything that exists. Therefore, everything is theological. God looks and sees and says, “It’s all mine.” And that is comforting to us, for the godless alternative is unthinkable. The crisis in our culture is more theological than political or economic. Every journalist is, by the act of reporting and writing, a theologian in that some worldview is being expressed in the story. So we Christians should, at the very least, be aware of where our ideas originate.