Journalistic Ethics – This is today’s Briefing, so you’re getting this fresh from the tap. Mohler’s discussion of ethics, professional standards and worldview in journalism is extremely useful and frames many of the questions which we should be asking about the way we consume news. I am basically in agreement with everything he says here, but I actually think there are a few more points which he doesn’t bring out explicitly.
It’s completely fair to say that mainstream journalism has better basic ethics than many of the independent news sources out there. Personally, if I’m interested in simply finding out what has happened lately, I’m going to get a lot better straight information from an outlet like NPR than I am many of these independent outlets. NPR is undeniably a liberal source, but their baseline reporting is better than anything conservatives have to offer. I think this is what Mohler is saying when he mentions that he pulls almost all of his articles from major news sources like the New York Times – they do evidence certain standards of journalistic excellence that are simply not displayed by independent sources, despite the corruption of the worldview behind the articles. I really don’t care how much you agree with the material being put out by them – it’s simply true that places like Breitbart and InfoWars produce material of notably lower professional quality than the NYT and NPR. As a conservative, I’m stuck in a place where I can read stuff which comes from a perspective to which I’m fundamentally opposed, yet adheres to basic standards of journalistic ethics, or I can read stuff from sources with a perspective I’m more sympathetic toward with much lower (usually abysmally low) professional standards. It feels like lose-lose.
Anecdotally, when my wife first listened to The Briefing a couple weeks ago, one of the first things she said to me was, “He doesn’t sound crazy.” I think it’s telling that simply hearing an informed, intelligent person talk about the news is such an aberration in our media.
Q. Are all transgressions of the law of God equally heinous in themselves, and in the sight of God?
A. All transgressions of the law of God are not equally heinous, but some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.WLC, 150
This is a compelling and perceptive analysis of the ways we use the language of the equality of sins. I actually believe, if anything, that this article is too charitable in its analysis of the phrase “All sins are equal in God’s sight.” Kruger suggests that this phrase is usually used to suggest that God equally condemns all sins, but in my experience, many people use it simply to dismiss the genuine problem of any sin. It gets used to make the argument “if you’re willing to dismiss the small sins in your life, you have to dismiss the large ones in mine,” and that is a massively destructive argument.
Book Lists – These are a couple of booklists from blogs which I read regularly, so if you’re fishing for something to read this holiday season, this probably isn’t a bad place to look. I’m actually currently reading the only book which shows up on both lists, The Fractured Republic: Renewing America’s Social Contract in the Age of Individualism. It is a legitimately powerful work for understanding our current cultural situation, as well as giving some hooks upon which to hang more forward-looking action. It is very worth your time.
On the topic of books, Challies’ Reading Challenge for next year is making the rounds right now. If you’re considering what you should be reading next year, this is not a bad way to structure it and ensure that you’re reading with some breadth. I’m tempted to commit to one of the plans, but seminary has a way of blowing up my intentions on reading.
If you don’t read often for pleasure, I would absolutely encourage you to consider at least a light plan. Whether it’s material for preaching or simply a breadth of perspective, reading broadly and deeply has immeasurable benefits for the intellectual life of every Christian. The benefit of Challies’ plan is that it forces you to read outside of your comfort zone, which is vital. We get into ruts quite easily in our reading patterns, and this is a healthy antidote.