Questions of the news
The immoral practices and eventual demise of Rupert Murdock’s News of the World has been a hot topic over the last week or so. This event causes us ask many questions. Today, I just want to raise a couple.
Questions about us
Before we explore the ugly activity of juicy story seeking journalists we must ask what we have contributed to the problem. I heard a journalist helpfully and memorably describe what has happened in the English press as crossing the line in being driven from what is in the public interest to what the public are interested in. Put that way it forces us to ask whether we, the public, contribute to what has happened? Is it our interest as a community in the saucy background story that pushes the journalists to go further than they would otherwise do?
Many will probably fairly say that they are not interested in this sort journalism, but we must all take some responsibility for not having stood up before this (including the British politicians who were adversely affected, and knew about the methods) and complained about the immorality involved in digging the dirt on the story. Jesus recognizes a community of blame exists for not rejecting past practices, even for those who did not engage in the practice (Luke 11:50).
So we must be careful to remember that we should not cast stones unless we are blameless.
Questions about the media
But those who actually engaged in despicable acts should be singled out for special blame, just as the Pharisees were for leading the people astray (Luke 11 again).
My question is how did they get to the point where they acted as they did with seemingly such non-existent morality? I assume that they did not begin their journalistic careers with this intent.
It seems to me this affair shows the insidious nature of the growth of sin. We see it in Jesus’ words about sin being like yeast (Luke 12:1), and James’ description of the way sin develops (James 1:13-15). As you begin by compromising in one area, it just makes it easier to compromise in the next, which then leads to compromise in the next…until you have travelled much further than you ever thought possible.
This whole process is accelerated by being able to justify your actions. While it is true of all areas of life, I notice journalists saying that it is their responsibility not just to report, but to investigate. This thought, while true, legitimizes the movement to immorality. In fact I heard a journalist today say that their task was to hold politicians and others accountable. But accountable to whom and for what? It seems it is the journalists who decide this… but that is the subject of another article.
For the time being, I am calling on myself and others to think through our part in the way the world is, and to beware of the incremental movement toward sin.