Many media houses have not considered relating journalism to Christianity. However, Christian journalists believe that they can do better in journalism as they ensure whole truth and objectivity in news reporting, which is a Christian obligatory standard.
At its annual conference for minority Christian journalists in Tampa, World Journalism Institute (WJI) in partnership with the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), and during the NABJ convention, Journalists of faith brainstormed ways in which they can be objective and maximize the truth in news reporting.
The conference attracted newspaper and broadcast news media outlets, seven International Media Fellows (Christian journalists) and other internationally recognized members of American media fraternity.
“I know that in my profession, my faith comes first. I believe that through journalism we are ministering, it is a way of serving God,” in a mood that depicted honesty, one of the speakers at a conference of Christian journalists, Evansville Courier & Press Editor Mizell Stewart said.
Stewart pointed out that Christian journalists have to be ‘servant journalists’.
They have to serve the community determinedly.
He said they (journalists) should look out for the voiceless and listen to those who desperately need to be heard.
Citing an example of some people who have received just treatment as a result of media telling their story, Stewart observed:
“Sometimes people are victims of injustice because they do not have any person to listen to them. It is us who are supposed to do so.
We need to have time for them, listen to them as they tell their stories and the truth will be known.”
WJI’s mission is to recruit, equip, place and encourage journalists who are Christians in the mainstream newsrooms of America. But the institution has also extended its roots to Africa.
“Our focus is mainstream media as opposed to Christian media because the daily newspaper and broadcast news media outlets are primary sources of information about the world.
Christians, joining those of many persuasions in the newsroom, can be beneficial in accurately understanding and reporting the events of the day,” WJI noted.
Gracie Bonds Staples, Atlanta Journal-Constitution journalist says it is very easy to report on some issues, especially those liked by every one (editors).
But, articles mentioning things related to Christianity or God are taken to be in the writer’s interest, especially when you are a Christian.
She explained that it is hard to intentionally leave out some words mentioned by the news source just because to some people, the story is not appealing.
“I just can’t find any reason why I should report some things and leave out others.
It would not be fair to leave out some significant information from the source, it would mean that you are not telling the whole story, the way it was told to you,” Gracie asserted in a calm voice.
After each and every speaker participants had opportunity to ask questions.
With shared experiences, questions and responses to the questions, Christian journalists were moved and determined that they would continue to serve in the domain.
Journalists confessed that they were encouraged. “It was the best experience for us who did not know that in the world there is such a special opportunity to meet as journalists of faith.
We have learnt that we encounter similar challenges,” said Joel Belz, an international media fellow who had never thought that Christian journalists could ever consider convening.
Meanwhile, the international fellows also made presentations on media in their respective countries. It was realized that there is a lot to sacrifice and consider when you are a Christian who chooses to serve through journalism.
This means focusing on serving people despite the lower pay and other unappealing working conditions.
Christian journalists’ reminder of reporting absolute truth is attached to their faith, where they believe that every human being has to be treated equally and fairly.
Sometimes journalism would be considered a non-Christian-friendly profession due to the entire process of collecting information.
But experienced journalists of faith disputed this. It was realized that Christian journalists in media should be more in number and be the best members in the media fraternity.
After the presentation by the International fellows who were Africans and associate members of NABJ, African-America journalists who were NABJ members wished to know what they are required to do for Africa as African-American journalists.
African journalists asked African-American journalists to go to Africa and professionally report balanced stories from the continent.
They showed concern that international journalists normally report negative stories about Africa.
African-American journalists were also requested to reach out to the African media outlets and help in the growth of journalism.
This would be possible through training and sharing journalism experience from the western world.