The Bible's lessons for secular media
RELIGION IS NOT STUCK in history. It helps people answer the most significant questions they will ask themselves still today, the CEO of The Media Project, Dr. Arne Fjeldstad, told the International Novomedia Forum on November 19 in Kiev.
A journalist, editor, and theologian with over thirty years of media experience, Fjeldstad spoke on the lessons journalists working in secular media can learn from the Bible.
"Who am I today? What kind of family do I want? What kind of education and job am I looking for? When we avoid discussing religion in secular media, the coverage we provide is imbalanced, and we deprive our audience of the answers they need," Fjeldstad said.
“A journalism that ignores or dismisses the role of religion in our common life misses the great stories of our time,” he went on, quoting Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson.
Dr. Fjeldstad is convinced that a good journalist should not just be aware of religious issues, but can also learn a lot from the Scripture:
“Journalists should pay attention to how Christ himself communicated with the public. Jesus talked about complex things in a simple was. He was a great storyteller and remained honest no matter what. A good journalist follows basic Christian values: Curiosity is a feature God gave us to help us become good journalists. He wants us to find out and investigate, look for comments, explore things in detail, double-check information in order to find the truth,” said Dr. Fjeldstad. He reminded the audience the words of Jesus who said that it is the truth that will set us free.
“The Bible calls us to be honest and open, never to hide “uncomfortable” facts – it describes things in a sincere and unbiased way. I also encourage you to remain open, loyal to the Truth, investigate facts in depth, and stand up against censorship dumbing down,” emphasized Dr. Fjeldstad.
The Media Project has been conducting conferences and supporting journalists all over the world for twenty years now.
“A couple of years ago we selected six journalists from Africa, gave them laptops and small video cameras. Using the skills learned at our seminars, they were asked to make short documentaries about the life of local communities,” said the speaker. This project was an opportunity for the public to discover some shocking facts about the traditions of those localities.
For example, in one of the tribes there was a notion that a female body ought to develop according to a certain timeline.
“If a girl’s body is developing slower or faster than it is thought normal, some of the most barbaric and cruel techniques may be applied to it in order to “correct” the pace of its growth,” Dr. Fjeldstad admitted. The documentary helped to draw the attention of the international community to this issue.
After his presentation, Dr. Fjeldstad invited journalists from secular media for lunch. It was an excellent opportunity to share unique experiences and to discuss the issues and challenges Christian journalists face in today’s media.
The Media Project is an international NGO that unites journalists all over the world. It aims to support and train media workers as well as promote professional and fair coverage of religious issues. Every year The Media Project holds international conferences for journalists. The next annual event will take place in the fall of 2012.