people tune in their radios to listen to the latest news. The integrity of radio stations is often measured by the quality of their informational programming — the better their news coverage, the greater their credibility. Throughout the world, there are societies where news is suppressed or manipulated by corrupt or authoritarian regimes. Large numbers of people are eager to find alternative broadcasters who reach out to them, and satisfy their need for trustworthy and objective coverage of local and world events.
In meeting this need, purely as an act of service alone, Christian radio stations attract significantly wider audiences. But much more than that — Christian broadcasters thus place themselves squarely in the arena of contemporary history. News is history in the making — and God is the author of history. His purposes, and His truths, abound in the unfolding global drama of news and current affairs.
Christian news broadcasters thus demonstrate Christian concern for life and the world around them. This is a dynamic part of the Gospel that relates to everyday life.
When a Christian fails to take note of the world around him — locally and globally — he is in effect saying that the message of the Gospel has nothing to say to the contemporary world. This does the Gospel a profound disservice. Christian stations lose their penetration when they delude themselves into thinking that their programming need not relate to news events. They lose out on vast potential audiences who would never tune into Christian stations purely to hear Bible teaching. Yet such non-believers are drawn to listen when they hear Christian programs present trustworthy, interesting and illuminating coverage of the events which shape the world they live in.
This has two implications for Christian broadcasters. First, we need to select our news topics with discernment, and treat them editorially with great care. We should not report events in a way that exalts worldly values. We should interrogate raw secular material to filter out bias, prejudice and false assumptions. We should not necessarily accept the approach to a news event adopted by the secular media — a Christian perspective is necessary. This is particularly relevant to secular stories that dwell on salacious detail, or obsessively see news events through political and material eyes, at the expense of the human dimension.
In Christian news journalism, the biblical watchword is test everything with spiritual as well as professional discernment. Done conscientiously and well, news-related contributions to programming have a sharp cutting edge. News programming graphically portrays situations and events where, in real life, God is at work and also where Satan's prevailing influence is evident. News analysis can interface directly with Bible teaching, or at a pre-evangelism level simply highlight Kingdom values instead of those of a fallen world. News programming directly engages real situations throughout society.
In real terms it may not always be practical or advisable to air straight news programs. This is pointed out by FEBC's Chinese broadcasters who have elected to take a comparatively conservative but safe stand towards newscast. They avoid doing news broadcasts but they make strong efforts to integrate news and information into their other programs that are closely linked with their audience.
News eloquently tells the story of a fallen, sinful world. By doing so it provides a ready platform for the Gospel — the Good News.
In another vein we consider the vital role that radio can play in relaying critical information in the aftermath of natural disasters. It is a time when reliable information is badly needed. Victims need to know where to get help and badly needed supplies. They need to know what health precautions to take, especially with regard to food, water and sanitation. They are anxious to find loved ones from whom they have become separated. They also need to tell their stories. Radio proves to be the ideal medium when it can respond promptly. Hand-wind radios are especially useful for distribution within the affected community.
Last updated 16 Oct 2009
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