…y (Dios) dijo: «Hagamos al *ser humano a nuestra imagen y semejanza. Que tenga dominio sobre los peces del mar, y sobre las aves del cielo; sobre los animales domésticos, sobre los animales salvajes,[a] y sobre todos los reptiles que se arrastran por el suelo.» Y Dios creó al ser humano a su imagen; lo creó a imagen de Dios.*Hombre y mujer los creó… (Génesis 1:26-27; NVI)
Human beings are created according to God’s image. Our evolution is also driven by the fact that we are from God and that we imitate God. Not only do we look like Him but also work like Him. No doubt why we describe God as a doctor, a social worker, a philanthropist, a caretaker, a gardener, a mother, a father, a guardian, a restorer, a judge, a problem solver, and much more; because God Himself (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) reflects in each one of us. Now, how about God as a journalist?
The first image that flashes on my head is Moses’ conversation with God at Mount Sinai, when a great lightning struck the stone and engraved The Ten Commandments. (Exodus 20) Thinking about it, perhaps this is God’s first hands-on publication (as we know, the Bible is written by people inspired by the Holy Spirit). But God is more than that. He is more than the words that compose news worthy material. He was The Word that became flesh, incarnate to give life to the words—He Himself is the message.
‘Show not tell’
Every journalist knows the principle of “showing and not telling.” When writing news stories, phrases like “his works and novels like, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, about Spanish occupation and oppression sparked the start of Philippine revolution…” is better than plainly saying, “he is a hero.” Basically, this principle answers the “how” question.
In the Four Gospels of the New Testament, John “features Christ’s seven ‘I am’ statements…” Here, the author emphasizes on who Jesus really is by describing His true nature, His relationship with the Father and His divinity.
En el principio ya existía el Verbo, y el Verbo estaba con Dios, y el Verbo era Dios. (Juan 1:1, NVI)
For so many years, the Law of Moses has been interpreted differently. Instead of uplifting the weak, the sick, and the poor, it has become a tool of oppression and imprisonment. Jesus’ coming was to correct this and to bring liberty to the believers. He was the Word (Message) in physical form. Jesus did not only proclaim the Good News through His preaching but “showed” it in His life! What a perfect example of “showing and not just telling.”
Before we go further, let us pause for a while and define journalism and a journalist.
Understanding Journalism (2002) author, Lynette Sheridan Burns, quoted, “Perhaps the most desirable quality in a journalist is that he/she should be a good mixer, a sociable soul who finds it easy to get on with men and women from all walks of life. The solitary, the exclusive, the scholarly, the boorish, self-opinionated dogmatist, the bigot, the pedant, the snob–none of these will find themselves at home in the world of journalism.” (Candlin, 1970: 10-12)
Journalism is often treated as a vocation rather than profession. Working in the mainstream media outlet before was a challenging job. I work on-call and spend most of my life handling news. Holidays and vacations are a luxury. I had lesser time with family and friends and we work more on special days—all these to provide the public relevant stories about their community, the nation, and the world.
Social role: Watchdog
“Killings of media practitioners are prevalent in the Philippines. Almost every year there are cases and reports of broadcasters or print journalists murdered. Why? Although ‘Freedom of the Press’ exists in our Constitution, implementing it is another thing.
“Continuing the legacy of those who were unjustly murdered for the sake of the truth is the reason why I want to pursue journalism and to be a passionate member of the Fourth Estate—a watchdog,” was my answer during my entrance interview at the university.
Media is considered as the fourth estate of the government because it oaths to be the “watchdog” between the governing body and the people. A watchdog is literally someone who guards and protects one’s property (Merriam Webster). Journalists act as protector and bearer of truth to the people, making sure that the government does its part in nation building. Journalists are always on the watch 24 hours a day, seven times a week (almost). It’s quite tough isn’t it?
In 2013, The Bible became the number one cable miniseries with more than 100 million viewers worldwide—and I am one of them! For the first time in television history, producer Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Voice, etc.), brought to life the pages of the world’s best-selling book of all time—The Bible.
A particular phrase is consistent in all episodes, “I (God) am with you always.” Isn’t it a wonderful and an assuring promise that in whatever circumstance, God is always there?
Jesus as a watchdog perfectly demonstrated His inclination towards what is best for all. He was a friend to the sinners, the poor, the weak, the sick, the outcasts. He represented these people in front of the rulers and persecutors. God’s availability proves His concern to all of His creation.
Si el Señor no hubiera estado de nuestra parte
—que lo repita ahora Israel—,
si el Señor no hubiera estado de nuestra parte
cuando todo el mundo se levantó contra nosotros,
nos habrían tragado vivos
al encenderse su furor contra nosotros;
nos habrían inundado las aguas,
el torrente nos habría arrastrado,
¡nos habrían arrastrado las aguas turbulentas!
Bendito sea el Señor, que no dejó
que nos despedazaran con sus dientes.
Como las aves, hemos escapado
de la trampa del cazador;
¡la trampa se rompió,
y nosotros escapamos!
Nuestra ayuda está en el *nombre del Señor,
creador del cielo y de la tierra.—Salmo 124 (NVI)
‘Express not to impress’
A close friend and colleague in the mainstream media shared that when she was little, she dreamt of becoming a medical doctor. When she was older, she desired to be an engineer. Then a bit older, she wanted to be a scientist. When she was in high school she thought that a lawyer is much better… She ended up taking Journalism in college.
“Being a journalist allows me to be whoever I want to be. When covering news stories, I can be a doctor, an engineer, a scientist, a lawyer, a teacher, a businesswoman, etc.,” my friend added.
During our editing classes back in the university, our professor always emphasizes that we should write (report) materials using words understandable by an elementary pupil.
Try reading a case analysis or a medical report, a court appeal, or even a financial statement, and you’ll find technical and highfalutin words that will make you go crazy! (Unless of course if you’re in those same fields) If you’re writing for the general public, you have to “use words that are simple and easy to comprehend.” That’s when journalism comes in!
Big words and terms are very tempting. They make you look intellectual and highly educated. But if it does not reach your audience, what use is there? Journalists are trained to write not to impress but to express, which means to build a strong rapport between the journalist and the audience.
Looking into Jesus’ life account, being God Himself, having authority over all that is seen and unseen, He lived a very humble life. As the Messiah and the ruler of all the Israelites, God incarnate in flesh was born in a manger. As God, He could have chosen a princess or a queen to conceive Him and He could have shown to all nations His divine nature—this way people might immediately believe in Him. Yet, He chose a low profile life. He proclaimed and shared the Message (Himself) as a commoner, as one of the general public. He shared a meal with a sinner, healed the sick, fed the poor—identified Himself as one of us. He was never proud or boasted of His might. He connected to each person: child, youth, adult. And the people understood the Message clearly.
The Good News
Because of sensationalism “bad news” is tagged as “good news.” For years I have covered police and hospital beats. Stories about stabbing, murder, robbery, theft, rape cases, and car accidents are most read news. You could check your paper’s headlines or the main stories on TV and radio news, and in the internet, and all you see are these types of stories; and notice that “good” good news come at the end of the program or at the last pages.
I still don’t understand the psychological and sociological reason behind it but people like to read more about disasters, accidents, and misfortunes of others.
God offers us the Good News; news that surpasses human understanding, time, space. For more than 2,000 years the Good News has been stated publicly, gave life freely, but still it is not appealing to many.
The Journalist and the Good News are available for us to see, hear, touch, reflect, and accept. What else are we asking for? Read the Bible, the world’s only timeless publication, to know and discover more of the perfect news God made and wrote for us!
As prophet Isaiah puts it:
El Espíritu del Señor omnipotente está sobre mí,
por cuanto me ha ungido
para anunciar buenas nuevas a los pobres.
Me ha enviado a sanar los corazones heridos,
a proclamar liberación a los cautivos
y libertad a los prisioneros,
a pregonar el año del favor del Señor
y el día de la venganza de nuestro Dios,
a consolar a todos los que están de duelo,
y a confortar a los dolientes de Sión.
Me ha enviado a darles una corona
en vez de cenizas,
aceite de alegría
en vez de luto,
traje de fiesta
en vez de espíritu de desaliento.
Serán llamados robles de justicia,
plantío del Señor, para mostrar su gloria.
Reconstruirán las ruinas antiguas,
y restaurarán los escombros de antaño;
repararán las ciudades en ruinas,
y los escombros de muchas generaciones. (Isaías 61:1-4)
If Pulitzer Prize Award (highest award-giving body for journalism and the arts) existed during Jesus’ time, I am sure He’ll receive timeless excellence recognition for His extraordinary works that are relevant for all generations. No one can beat that!
(Also available in Spanish as published in CEPALC’s January-March 2014 magazine. Contact me for Spanish version)