Our Love/Hate Relationship with the Media

A few passing thoughts to remind myself of how to read and listen to news reports on ‘breaking news’ issues.

  • Read and listen to as many primary source outlets and learn discernment when you are reading/hearing secondary sources and commentary.
    • Here’s what I mean by primary, secondary and commentary
      • Primary: Press releases, unedited speeches, manuscripts of speeches and uncut interviews.
      • Secondary (most secondary news is commentary): Any, and all, news outlet anchors are speaking biased opinions. Any report that shows short clips are possibly using a short clip to make a point in support or against spoken or unspoken agendas.
      • Commentary is anyone speaking about an event as an observer, they are ‘commenting’ on how they see things as they see things.
    • Examples of Each (generally):
      • Primary: Uncut interviews, live press conferences, manuscripts of speeches, auto-biographies, written and/or audio/video of a person expressing an opinion (secondary and commentary becomes primary sources when that source is in question.)
      • Secondary: Newspaper, magazine articles, network news, talk radio, opinions (become primary sources if discernment is exercised by the listener), biographies, wikipedia.
      • Commentary: Newspaper, talk radio, monologue, conversations.
      • In short, any source that describes, comments on, or analyzes primary sources is not a primary source. (My blog  is largely a secondary/commentary source. It becomes a primary source when my thoughts are the subject of interest.)
    • It is not easy to find primary sources. But they are available. Here are a few sources I have found.
      • C-Span (as long as it is pure streaming of an event, not an anchor commenting or analyzing the event.)
      • look for any live (or recorded live) press conferences.  Be a discerning listener so that when you form an opinion you are speaking, thinking, acting as closely to truth as possible.  Form your opinion based on what people are saying with their own words. To form an opinion based on another’s opinion is not an exercise of being a fair and balanced commentator.
    • Research and look for manuscripts of speeches and interviews. Here is where a news outlet becomes our friend. This is where they become a distributor of a primary source. (even this may be secondary information based on who is speaking.) This is what I look for in when breaking news happens. The information dispersed in a press conference is at least vetted with caution on information.
      • Two press conferences of interest related to the recent shooting in California that were of interest to me are listed below. I listen for content and context to the subject and listen for other agendas that seem to be more the reason for the release. I do listen for factual data and compare and contrast that with secondary sources …

      • The most interesting for me as a pastor was the press conference last night (12/2/2015) from CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) I watched it in its entirety last night but could only find portions of it today.


If you listen to this, exercise discernment as you listen.

Listen for what is helpful, listen for truth (this means you must become informed about the truth of Islam). Listen for what is unhelpful. Listen for sincerity. Listen for cover-up. Listen for truth speakers. Ask yourself questions based on facts and truth. Listen for confusing statements and listen for lies. In my opinion (commentary warning) This press conference has some of all of this. It is clear that the brother-in-law is sincere, the Islamic leaders want to communicate Islam as a peaceful religion, and the other faith leaders are wolves in sheep clothing, liars! (I warned you of my commentary.)

The natural next thing I do is exercise caution in how I speak about the breaking news.

  • Things I strive to do:
    • Be informed and build an opinion on my own first.
    • Pray to God for victims. (I don’t “send my prayers” to anyone, I pray to God for them)
    • Inform others.
    • Be kind and graceful.
    • Live an informed and responsible life with my hope fixed on Christ.
  • Things I strive not to do:
    • Send my thoughts to others… (I don’t have any idea what that even means.) I think about the people and the issue they may be dealing with, but I think it dangerous to engage in sending ‘positive thoughts’ as some kind of a spiritual activity.
    • Be cruel.
    • Speak without compassion.

1 Comment

  • Terry Simon

    December 3, 2015 at 8:43 PM Reply

    Thanks for your service to the Lord and diligence in seeking the truth. It is so easy to be led astray by the media. God bless you and family.

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