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. 

Archie Poulos is Head of Ministry at Moore Theological College and Director of the Centre for Ministry Development.

Comments (9)

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  • Andrew Mackinnon
    July 22, 11 - 6:44am
    Archie, you think that everything that other people do wrong is your fault. You've got a guilt complex and it's not healthy. What is even less healthy is that you try to impose this guilt complex onto your audience.
  • Stephen Davis
    July 25, 11 - 2:42am
    With the greatest of respect to you, I think you might have gone a bit far in using the blanket approach, although in fairness to you I think you raised a useful point - "crossing the line in being driven from what is in the public interest to what the public are interested in". Just using yourself as an example, I believe I am quite safe in asserting that you are completely free from any wrongdoing in the above raised matter. These situations come about as a result of people giving themselves over to sinful behaviour in the form of(in the above case), gossip mongering, blackmail, a desire to ruin people, a desire for revenge, the list could go on. The people who engage in this type of sordid behaviour are the ones who need to examine themselves, just as we all do when we are either doing or thinking something that we know to be unGodly. I absolutely agree wth your comment about casting stones, but that aside, when something is happening that is wrong then someone has to report it, I cannot accept all the time, that people who buy and read a paper and as a result attain knowledge of an incident or event, are as guilty as the people who report it, regardless of their motives or intentions. All the best mate, keep up your columns.
  • Dave Lankshear
    July 25, 11 - 7:34am
    Archie, you think that everything that other people do wrong is your fault. You've got a guilt complex and it's not healthy. What is even less healthy is that you try to impose this guilt complex onto your audience.

    That's a bit rich given the article is clearly talking in generalities about the community at large.
    1. Archie isn't blaming himself or anyone in particular exactly but warning that where market forces pull, journalists will follow. There have been a number of reports showing this to be a clear temptation for UK journalists and tabloids.

    2. Given the way Jesus warned about the power of sin to corrupt and spread, we should not get too carried away with righteous indignation and remember our own propensity to sin. This is entirely biblical and an appropriate pastoral warning.

    3. Remember, every time we point the finger there are four fingers pointing back at us. But I don't expect you to understand this. You think I'm participating in a worldwide conspiracy of the anti-Christ because I take the science of global warming seriously. When you're that ready to point the finger and condemn (without even having met me) I guess this sort of article could be unnerving. I hope we can encourage each other to think about how we engage Christians we disagree with more fruitfully, and less judgmentally, in light of all this.

    I'm just saying how it looks from here — and I could also be wrong about you — having never met you.
  • Stephen Davis
    July 25, 11 - 7:57am
    David, with all due respect, you need to take your own advice here mate, Andrew might have gotten a little out of hand but from how it looks from "here", you are engaging in exactly the same thing.
  • Dave Lankshear
    July 25, 11 - 8:13am
    I've tried to discuss some of those accusations by Andrew with him via Private Message but he wouldn't respond. I thought — given the seriousness of the charges — that he at least owed me that.

    I'll delete point 3 then.
  • Dave Lankshear
    July 25, 11 - 8:13am
    Blargh! Can't edit my post now.
  • Stephen Davis
    July 25, 11 - 9:24pm
    Dave, don't worry about it, all is well I'm sure! Healthy debate is good but the quality of it is greatly enhanced by our choice of words, terms and phrases. All the best mate.
  • Dave Lankshear
    July 26, 11 - 1:06am
    OK then — but if Andrew ever wants to explore his thoughts on global warming any further, there's an interesting thread over here where he can discuss it with a few other Sydney Anglicans.
  • Dave Lankshear
    July 26, 11 - 10:23am
    Hi Andrew,
    you might be interested in this thread called Global warming, Freemasons + UN = AntiChrist plot