Imagine two headlines. First headline:
Jesus Rises From the Grave!
Pharisees Doubt the Resurrection of Christ
Both headlines represent quality journalism in that they capture their readers’ attention and make them want to read more. But in order for the articles to resonate as truly accurate, the journalist in question would have to ensure that both sides of the story are being given equal exposure.
Yes, Jesus rose from the grave, but there were a number of people who saw Him die yet never saw Him walking the streets of Jerusalem, so not everyone was convinced that Christ had somehow come back to life (Matt 27:19-23; 1 Cor 15:3-8.
On the other hand, there were some sinister characters who knew that the disciples hadn’t stolen the body, yet were determined to circulate the idea that the whole thing was a farce and needed to be dismissed as pure fiction (Matt 28:11-15).
Here’s where journalism can either be a tremendous help or a toxic distraction.
If I, as a reporter, am cynical and perhaps even antagonistic towards the idea of a would be Messiah coming back to life, I can still resolve to report the Resurrection without passion or prejudice and give my readers the opportunity to formulate their own conclusions based on a presentation of the facts that is both complete and thorough.
I can allow my bias to dictate the integrity of my article and emphasize the facts that cater to my preferences and gloss over those things that have the potential to refute my personal opinion.
I can be ethical without being forthcoming…
…and the more credible my reputation the more damage I can do in that many of my readers will assume that my analysis is comprehensive and go on to adopt a viewpoint that is fundamentally flawed all the while believing that is informed and irrefutable.
This is the essence of fake news.
It’s not that it lacks in accuracy as much as it’s intentionally incomplete and when you’re dealing with a culture that tends to hear with their eyes and think with their feelings, it is an incredibly effective way to shape the mindset of an entire society to the point where everything from their morals to their politics is based on facts more so than truth.
But here’s something to keep in mind: While irresponsible journalism may be a problem, it isn’t the reporters that are responsible for the way we live or think. Yes, they do need to be held accountable, but it’s up the individual to research things for themselves to the point where they can explain what they believe and why they believe it…
…and not be compelled to admit their whole paradigm is based on two headlines.