Why Christians Should Be Knowledgeable of Current Events
- Mike Farris, Esq. President of Patrick Henry College
- 2001 5 May
We are living in the midst of the Communication Age, the Age of Information, some say. In light of the events of 2001, I thought it would be appropriate to share with you a Home School Heartbeat interview with Nick Eicher, managing editor of WORLD Magazine, to discuss todays media culture.
Mike: First of all, tell us a little about WORLD Magazine. What is the mission of WORLD?
Nick: Well, our mission is to make people informed about whats going on in the culture, nationally and internationally. But more than that we want to use that toward this end: that people would be able to develop a biblical worldview about whats going on in their culture.
Mike: How can reading the news help them develop a biblical worldview?
Nick: Well, our editor, Marvin Olasky, likes to make this point: that the heavens declare the glory of God, and the streets declare the sinfulness of man. I think also you can see Gods hand in national affairs if reported properly. You can see the many remarkable providences of God as He governs sovereignly over our world, and as His people participate in the policy-making, as His people participate in the law making, and in the culture shaping, and were able to report this. And I think that that is a good way to keep up with His acting in the world and the universe.
Mike: Nick, why do you think it is important for children, in particular, to learn about current events?
Nick: Well, because these are going to be the people who will grow up and assume leadership positions in our nation, and so a strong grasp of history is important for children, and journalism is strictly a first draft of history. Whenever historians write the history books, they do pay attention to what was written in the popular press, and so its a way that they can internalize some of the activities in the world around them, as children, and they grow up with this knowledge.
Mike: What suggestions can you give to parents who want to have their children informed but want to protect them from the unsavory material that the media so often publishes these days?
Nick: Well, lately thats a hard question to answer. WORLD tries to cover those things in as tasteful a fashion as we can. We want to report the news honestly, truthfully, thoroughly, but at the same time, I think we try to be as mindful of the fact that there are children listening.
Mike: Nick, how can home schoolers, in particular, work to influence the media in a positive way?
Nick: Well, if youre talking about influencing, say, your local newspaper, your local television station, or your local radio station, I think letters to the editor dont hurt. Getting to know reporters doesnt hurt. Praying for them certainly is something that everyone can do who wouldnt otherwise have contact with the media. But I think thats one simple way to do it.
Mike: In recent years, have you seen Christians becoming more involved or less involved in areas like journalism, politics, and entertainment?
Nick: I think they have become more involved. Ill start with politics; on the judiciary committee there are a couple of Christiansthere are three Christianswho are very solid individuals. These are solid Christians who got involved in politics because they were concerned about what was going on.
In journalism, I think, that there is the development of more journalism schools at Christian colleges of higher quality. Our editor, Marvin Olasky, is a journalism professor at the University of Texas, so, yeah, I think were seeing more Christian involvement.
Mike: What advice would you give to home-school students who are interested in journalism?
Nick: I would say to those people to just try to develop as big a worldview as they can. I dont really think, at this early stage that its all that important to learn the mechanics of journalism. I think whats more important is for children to develop a very strong academic program for themselves.
Mike: Do you think it is necessary for journalists to have a college degree?
Nick: Oh, no its not. It doesnt hurt, but again this is not, shall we say, brain surgery. Now, Im not saying that its not important to know the mechanics of journalism, but I am saying that it is not necessary to have some lengthy period of academic training in journalism. This can be picked up by practice.
Mike: Sounds like an appropriate apprenticeship program if you ask me.
Nick: No doubt about that. I did an internship, and I think I got more from the internship, practically speaking, than just about anything [else] I did.
Mike: What do you think are the major problems that are inherent within todays mass media society?
Nick: Well, if we broke them into the electronic media, the print media, and I would add a third category, the Internet media, they have their own inherent problems. I think with broadcast, the biggest problem journalistically is this media category is unable to provide much context. In the print media I think the big problem is immediacy. And then with the Internet journalism there is limitation in that you can get into print too fast, without checking out your entire story. So they all have specific problems, but I think the worst of all the problems is in the electronic media in that there is very little context.
Mike: Nick, how can these problems that you just talked about be overcome?
Nick: I think the way that it can be overcome is for news consumers to have a variety of news sources. So I would say to news consumers to be as intelligent about your news shopping as you are about your grocery shopping. Get a well balanced diet.