FIRST GLIMPSE: Bad News
“I don’t want to share bad facts, so where can I find some reliable news?”
The sincere question came after I quietly informed a family member the widely circulated rumor he shared had proven false (and cautioned him about the source).
It was not the first time I had heard the question, nor is it an easy one to answer. In a day when technology has made “news” more available than any other time in human history, news also has grown increasingly suspect. Unreliable information has become such a problem in recent years that “fake news” has become a pop culture catchphrase. From politicians and pundits to TV personalities, accusations are hurled back and forth about who is really telling the truth. An election year doesn’t help matters, as candidates offer endless questionable claims about themselves and those running against them.
The rise of fake news makes it difficult to point to any three- or four-letter network, radio program, website, magazine, or newspaper and recommend it without a litany of disclaimers. Sadly, even some Christian news sources have been called on the carpet for poor journalistic standards, questionable or misleading statistics, double standards, and—in worst cases—outright misinformation.
While crumbling journalistic integrity is troubling for society-at-large, it is especially troubling for Christians, those called to lives of honesty and integrity (Colossians 3:9;
2 Timothy 2:15; Ephesians 4:25). Proverbs 6:16-19 leaves no room for doubt when “a lying tongue” and “a false witness” are listed among seven sins God hates. Not telling (or sharing or posting or repeating) falsehoods must be a high priority for believers.
That brings us back to the question: “Where can we find some reliable news.” Bluntly, it takes serious work to sift today’s news for the truth. Start with the following simple checklist:
Verify. Confirm the facts. Check the sources. Carefully examine statistics. Scripture tells us to prove or test everything and “hold fast” to what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Before sharing, posting, or printing—putting your name (and God’s) on the line—verify the facts. A few extra moments of research could save your reputation...and His.
Consult multiple sources. Don’t rely on a single news outlet (especially social media). Consult sources representing a spectrum of perspectives, even those uncomfortable to you. Define historical views and perspectives. Call an expert in the field. In short, do your homework. Researching widely will help you gain a broader and more accurate understanding of world events.
Dodge conspiracy theories. Sure, many conspiracy theories are built upon a kernel of truth. However, without facts and documentation, they are little more than unverified gossip. When shared as truth and later proven false, the resulting damage to integrity can have disastrous effects.
Speak the truth in love. When you arrive at the truth, use it redemptively. Truth is not a weapon to brandish against a broken world but a roadmap to lead the broken to the Source of all truth. Present truth carefully, in love, and with eternity in mind.
About the Columnist: Eric K. Thomsen is managing editor of ONE Magazine.