WJI 2017 Blog Day 6 AM: Is a journalist ever objective?

May 19, 2017

Alyssa Sperrazza

Oklahoma Baptist

Is a journalist ever objective? Well, for the better part of the morning, we discussed the recognition that everything we do, whether intended or not, falls short of being objective. What words we use, how you cover a story, what photos you use… even the stories we chose to write and the ones we skip over expose our lack of objectivity.

It was a slightly rude awakening, making the hours of lectures I’ve sat through at my university, calling for objectivity and balance in articles, feel slightly unproductive. But there’s a history of journalist having an opinion. Murrow had one and that was the end of McCarthy. Cronkite had one and that was the end of the Vietnam War. It makes me wonder, why can’t I?

What if journalists overcame their fear of or society’s call for objectivity when it comes to black and white situations? We can easily praise journalists in the past for their opinions, especially the ones that led to the downfall of corrupt people or the ending of a war, but I think it’s easy to forget that both men mentioned faced intense scrutiny for their actions at the time.

Marvin Olasky led an in-depth discussion on objectivity for the Christian journalist. How can Christian journalists balance faith and facts? Sometimes, in a broken world, facts contradict our faith. Same-sex marriage laws are fact following the Supreme Court decision in 2015, but it goes against the biblical definition of marriage. So how does a Christian journalist cover that? It was really encouraging when Marvin said, “We’re actors, we’re making up our lives but at the same time we’re acting under God’s providence.”

I believe a lot of Christian journalists can easily contract a ‘savior’ complex. We see so clearly, the brokenness this world is suffering, and it’s easy to look at a scenario and try to fix it rather than record it. And surely, God has placed people into positions to fix problems and to lead this world a little closer to what He intended. But as Christian journalists, we, as many leaders at WJI have stated, are writing the first rough draft of history. This history we’re recording is known by God, crafted by God and in no way out of His control. And I do believe the pen is stronger than the sword so who says we can't record history and solve problems at the same time?

Our hour before lunch was filled with an initial-cringe worthy reaction from everyone. We had spent the better part of yesterday working on a radio wrap. It was a long day, from a press conference, to script writing, editing, recording, and more editing. The hour before lunch was the time we got to listen to some of our final products.

People rarely like the sound of their own voice, including myself, so everyone was partially excited, partially uncomfortable, knowing we’d hear our voice played throughout the room. Overall though, the experience was a lot of fun. Everyone was supportive of each other’s work and Nick Eicher gave really great feedback to the ones we listened to. I can’t wait to turn the radio on in the future and hear some people from this class of WJI students and go, “hey I know that person!” Hearing some of the wraps, its obvious some of these people have a future in radio.

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