MULBERRY, Fla. — Law enforcement arrested a Florida pastor Wednesday as he drove to a park to light nearly 3,000 Qurans on fire to protest the 2001 terrorist attacks. Read the rest of this entry »
From Intercollegiate Review, May 2013, a timeless classic. Read the whole thing here. Career advice from my newsroom hero, supreme champion pugilist of punditry, brilliant bombshell of bodacious badassery, Mollie Z. Hemingway:
There has never been a better time to consider a career in journalism.
Newspapers are thriving, magazines are innovating, online journalism listicles are becoming more substantive, and cable-news talking heads are shouting at holograms.
Journalists are living up to our reputation as the country’s most trusted profession (at least compared to IRS agents and American Airlines customer-service representatives). Whether it’s our nuanced and thoughtful analysis of hot-button topics such as gay marriage or our tenacious coverage of the terrorist attack in Benghazi and Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s abortion clinic in Philadelphia, people know you can count on us to get the story right.
Would you like to succeed in this environment? As a long-time reporter and media critic, I’m happy to share tips on what to do if you want to make it in modern journalism.
Don’t Sweat the Details
Is there a difference between an Evangelical and an evangelist? Who cares? Don’t know the technical reason why Christians celebrate Easter? Will anyone really notice? Do you confuse the author of Hebrews with Paris booksellers?We all do! Whether you’re reporting on important U.S. Supreme Court decisions or how many people died in a terrorist bombing, what’s most important is getting the story first, not getting the story right, particularly under the pressure of a 24-hour news cycle.
Don’t Question Authority
If the powers-that-be suggest that a terrorist attack on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11 was the spontaneous and direct result of an unseen YouTube video with junior high school production values, who are you to be skeptical?
If these same authority figures suggest that therefore it’s dangerous for Americans to speak freely, share their religious views, and express their artistic sensibilities however they want, you should probably just join them in calling for restrictions on these First Amendment freedoms.
Likewise, if a politician suggests that the reports of scandal surrounding his administration are overblown, leave him alone already. Would he lie? One good thing to remember is that, generally speaking, only Republican politicians mislead. The sooner you figure that out, the more quickly you’ll be on your way to working at the New York Times.
Recently, some journalists asked the military about reports that the armed services were cracking down on Evangelical Christians. Military spokesmen assured the reporters that there was nothing to worry about. The good reporters figured that meant the case was closed.
Remember Your Job Is to Advance Narratives, Not Report Facts
CNBC’s John Harwood said recently, “Those of us in political-media world should just shut up about ‘narratives’ and focus on what’s true.” Spoken like a real nobody. We’re in the Golden Era of narratives. Facts are for old-timers. Take the story about the Health and Human Service Department’s Obamacare-inspired regulation requiring all employers (regardless of religious objections) to provide employee insurance covering birth control, sterilization, and abortifacients at no cost to the employee. Would you rather report the actual details about this, including claims that it is an unprecedented restriction on religious liberty, or simply call any attempts to fight it part of a “war on women”? Exactly. You know the right thing to do.
The Fate of Progressive Evangelicalism
Shirley Hanson had little interest in politics. The suburban Minneapolis homemaker was committed to her family, serving in her local community, and, in particular, serving in her evangelical church. Aghast at the excesses of the late 1960s and early ’70s, she voted for Richard Nixon in 1968 and 1972 but then was disillusioned by the Watergate scandal. As the 1976 presidential election approached, she became intrigued with a relative new-comer to national politics, Jimmy Carter. The manner in which his faith was so much a part of his identity compelled her to think anew about her interest and possible involvement in politics.
When her three children returned to school that fall, Hanson went door-to-door in surrounding neighborhoods to generate votes for Carter. She then watched with considerable satisfaction that November as the peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia, was elected as the 39th President of the United States.
Fast forward four years. Hanson renounced her support for Carter and cast an impassioned vote for Ronald Reagan. She was not alone in her decision: a grinding recession, gasoline shortages, and a hostage crisis in Iran that deeply wounded American morale left Carter vulnerable.
In Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy Carter, Randall Balmer, a noted commentator on America’s religious past and present who serves on the faculty at Dartmouth College, seeks to make sense of this turn of events, situating Carter in the long arc of progressive evangelicalism and in particular its vicissitudes during the ascendancy of the Religious Right, a period detailed so well by David Swartz in his recent Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism…(read more) Books and Culture
Reviewing the book “Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism”, in October 2012, For Christianity Today, Gregory Metzger writes:
In the Iowa caucuses of 1976, The New York Times reported on the surprising impact of a new force in American politics. This force propelled a relative unknown to victory in Iowa and eventually earned him the nomination of his party. The candidate was Jimmy Carter, the party Democratic, and the new political force evangelicals.
Carter’s shocking victory in Iowa would propel him to the Democratic nomination, and in the general election Carter would benefit from the active support of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Jimmy Allen, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, in his defeat of Republican Gerald Ford. Four years later evangelicals would prove to be a key plank in a Religious Right’s effort to defeat Carter and elevate Ronald Reagan to the presidency. A new book tells the dramatic story of the grassroots movements of the evangelical left that formed in the ’60s and ’70s and helped pave the way for Carter’s stunning victory, and explains the forces that would leave those movements in ideological retreat in the ’80s and ’90s. It’s a complicated story told with great skill and clarity by David R. Swartz in Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism (University of Pennsylvania Press).
[Order the book Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism from Amazon.com]
Swartz, assistant professor of history at Asbury University, did his studies at Notre Dame under the tutelage of first George Marsden and then Mark Noll, and his writing reflects the decades of careful evangelical scholarship that those two have pioneered. Swartz has produced a must read not only for those interested in American religion and politics, but also for students of global Christianity. In relatively short order (the book’s main text comes in at 266 pages), Swartz gives a richly textured narrative of some of evangelicalism’s brightest thinkers, most creative activists, and most controversial provocateurs. Read the rest of this entry »