Amid politicking, name-calling and fulfilling personal agendas, most news organizations miss what is really important.
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Arriving home, you pick up the newspaper and turn on the television just in time to hear the first story of the evening news: “Government agrees on largest spending cuts in history.”
A newscaster begins, “After intense negotiations, officials agreed to an unprecedented 68 percent of proposed cuts…”
“Impressive,” you think. But looking down, you notice a newspaper headline reads, “Proposed cuts tackle only 0.4 percent of deficit.”
Same event—two sources—different bias. Puzzled, you wonder, Aren’t news reports supposed to be objective?
Ignoring the television, you read below the fold of the newspaper: “Massive earthquake, tsunami strike.” Other headlines spell trouble for the rest of the world: “Volcano spews lava—thousands flee.” “Landslide destroys millions of acres.” “New antibiotic-resistant virus discovered, hundreds feared dead.” “Violent protests spreading.” The last story, which is paired with images of carnage, makes you grimace.
Hour after hour, syndicates continually feed stories of events that seem disconnected. Live reports come from anywhere, at any time, and from anyone.
Media outlets frequently explain problems in certain countries, while seemingly neglecting others. For example, even though there is ongoing civil unrest in the Congo, one might instead hear updates on the American president’s dog or see footage of a bear in a tree. Striving to keep up with it all, you cannot help but ask, Is anyone telling the full story?
The 24-hour, seven-day-a-week news culture allows people living across the world to see events as they happen. Revolutions, natural disasters, wars, reports of re-emerging diseases, famine and violence are just a click away.
Being able to see terrible events occurring worldwide can lead one to question: Where is it all headed? End-time doomsayers quickly affirm they know, often spouting terms Apocalypse and Armageddon to describe humanity-ending events. Others claim global climate change—causing food and water shortages, rising sea levels, and severe ecosystem disruptions—could lead to Earth’s annihilation. Some even believe the “blue planet” faces a dire future, perhaps billions of years from now, when the sun runs out of fuel, explodes and destroys all life.
At the other end of the spectrum are those who view environmental-disaster theories as fear-mongering designed to dismantle the capitalist system and force people to turn to a global world order.
Back and forth it goes. One man’s expert is another man’s fool; one man’s slant is another man’s truth. Finger-pointing, name-calling, accusations of economic greed, and political bias seem without end. Once-respected news programs have become fight shows, with each commentator jockeying to make his position heard.
Watching it all can make it almost impossible to trust that journalists, many of whom have their own agendas, could be reporting in a balanced way. But as always, they do deliver, and news reports of nuclear meltdowns, financial hardships, and health crises pour in, with the mainstay questions of who, what and when answered. Then what is missing?
As with everything in life, there is a cause for every effect—even in the news. While a “why” is sometimes discussed, it is through an individual’s or organization’s particular viewpoint. Editorial judgment is generally determined by company executives concerned about the bottom line—profit. These must walk a fine line between operating as money-making corporations and unbiased news organizations.
For media outlets to continue reporting news, they must generate income. Even if a news source wishes to remain unbiased, it still has to comply with advertisers and public preferences.
The book Unreliable Sources: A Guide to Detecting Bias in News Media explains, “The media business operates with a pair of avowed purposes—to provide a public service and to make money. As a result, mixed messages are typical.”
This is part of what hides the real story behind the news.
Although helpful in understanding individual events, personal reports and editorial commentaries bring a particular angle. Yet opinions are not just limited to “opinion-editorial” pieces. They often affect basic news gathering.
Reporters are paid to inform the public. They make judgments based on human knowledge and experience. They are tasked to pass along important information and events, to publicize crises around the world, and analyze world events.
When approaching a topic, any writer will view it through his eyes. His thoughts and emotions automatically bring bias. But maintaining objectivity is most journalists’ goal.
Yet there are some who specifically try to sway the public to suit their own purposes or present their own agendas. Consider the following headline: “New AIDS-like disease appears in China.” After clicking on a link, a viewer sees a promo, “State dismisses disease as phobia, but patients are dying.”
Another source carries a different headline: “Health officials say AIDS-like disease is actually phobia,” with the article stating, “A senior health official has dismissed media reports that thousands of people on the mainland have a mysterious infectious condition that has been dubbed ‘negative AIDS.’”
Two different sources, two ways of portraying the same story.
Which is right? Without investing many hours into research, it is almost impossible to know.
Then there is the method of burying significant, less-convenient facts. By adding these later in the text, a reader may be led to believe this information is less important—if he bothers, or has time to read the full story.
This also happens in broadcast journalism, where lighter, upbeat stories are selected in favor of harder-hitting investigative pieces. This often casts light away from a particular news story or detracts from one that is not in the company’s best interest.
The practice of “selling fear” is also effective. Since media outlets rely on website traffic, subscriptions or television viewership, whatever attracts more people—what the public wants—is most important.
Take the nuclear situation in Japan. A devastating earthquake and tsunami caused thousands of deaths and breakdowns at a nuclear power plant, which caused radiation levels in the area to rise.
As a result, surrounding countries became concerned that the same radiation could reach their shores. One Internet story about radiation in Washington, D.C.’s milk was published next to pictures of Japan so that the reader would draw an association between the two. It was not until the reader clicked on the link for the article that he learned that radiation levels were nowhere near hazardous.
While not all journalists use these methods intentionally, a slant can be detrimental to the public’s perception of what is really occurring in the world. It can either make people feel unnecessarily alarmed or overly comfortable in their own lives. It can also cause them to tune out world events altogether, instead living with a half-hearted awareness of things taking place around them.
Such subtle practices have been around for a very long time, and are linked to how news reports miss the central story behind today’s world events.
Politics, philosophy and religion are the main driving forces behind bias. Personal ideologies run deep and drive each person’s course in life. And they are divisive. Recall the old adage, “Don’t discuss politics or religion.” People will often adamantly hold to their beliefs—doing all they can to prove their side is right—even among family and friends.
One of the most divisive topics is the Bible. Many seemingly venerate it, and habitually accept anything they are taught about it by someone they trust. Others view the concept of God’s Word as implausible, and believe it should be regarded as antiquated Hebrew literature. Still others believe some of the text is true, while certain passages are mere allegory.
Yet it is the Bible that describes an early example of a slanted statement used to influence a person’s actions. In the Garden of Eden, God instructed Adam and Eve: “…of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:16-17).
The account continues, “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman…has God said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Gen. 3:1).
Notice the deceitful handling of God’s command by Satan, who appeared as a serpent. Turning the statement into a question, he sparked curiosity for the fruit, and doubt toward God. His enticing question led the woman to believe there was more to God’s instruction than she initially thought.
Satan continued his biased slant, “You shall not surely die: for God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:4-5).
Swayed by his reasoning, both Adam and Eve ate the fruit.
Note that Adam and Eve were given “knowledge of good and evil.” From that point forward, man decided for himself what is good and evil, what is right and wrong.
The Bible indicates that this same bias continues today, with the devil being the main influence for mankind’s culture, societies and lifestyles. Ephesians 2:2 describes Satan as “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience.”
Similar to a radio station that broadcasts biased news 24 hours a day, man’s thoughts are continually influenced by this “power of the air.”
To most, the story of Adam and Eve is merely an interesting fable or myth, from which one can perhaps glean lessons. Many Christians insist this event occurred, but disagree among themselves what implications flow from it.
So which is it? Is the story in the Garden of Eden fact or fiction?
The text of the Bible itself answers this age-old question. Realize that one third of the Bible is prophecy, which is news written in advance. God claims authorship over the entire Bible, and tells the skeptic to prove His Word by using these prophecies.
The book of Isaiah states, “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure” (46:9-10).
In other words, God says certain events will happen, then He works to bring them to pass. This is summarized in the next verse: “I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it” (Isa. 46:11).
Has the Bible accurately foretold future events?
In the book of Mark, Jesus prophesied about the physical, ancient Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. “And as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said unto Him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! And Jesus answering said unto him, See you these great buildings? There shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Mark 13:1-2).
This occurred exactly as He foretold, during the Roman invasion of Jerusalem in AD 70. To this day, a Muslim mosque stands atop the Temple Mount. (While it is not the purpose of this article to explain them all, other astounding prophecies fulfilled to the letter are detailed in the booklet Bible Authority…Can It Be Proven?)
Many events that were foretold are now in the past, meaning they prove the accuracy of God’s Word. But about 90 percent of prophecies are yet to occur—future events. This makes the Bible the only lens through which world events can be accurately viewed, and the only unbiased and truthful news source.
After Jesus prophesied the destruction of the Temple, He delivered what is known as the Olivet Prophecy—a private message to His disciples regarding the end of the age: “And as He sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked Him privately, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?” (Mark 13:3-4).
Compare His answer to some of the headlines in today’s newspapers: “And when you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars…nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in diverse places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows” (Mark 13:7-8).
Is it only coincidence that this passage describes what is happening in the world today? Consider some recent stories: “Lebanon-Israel tensions rise over offshore oil and gas” (Time); “Last 10 years deadliest on record for aid workers” (CNN); “In Ivory Coast, when conflict starts women become targets” (Guardian); “Conflict and poverty: The economics of violence” (The Economist); “Scores of earthquakes reported on California-Nevada border” (The Los Angeles Times); “Food price hikes could push millions to poverty” (CNNMoney); “Studies highlight challenge of controlling resistant bacteria in hospitals” (Businessweek); “Rape victims in Congo call for justice” (Voice of America); “Jobless claims unexpectedly rise last week” (Reuters); “Study ties suicide rate in workforce to economy” (The New York Times).
While skeptics claim there has always been bad news, the Bible allows you to understand what time Christ was referencing. For proof we have entered end times—and exactly what that means—read the booklet Are These the Last Days?
Several scriptures bear out that a time of unsurpassed troubles will soon collide with an unsuspecting world, but many prominent prophecy-watchers have obscured the meaning of these events. Their off-the-wall predictions have painted any who believe biblical prophecy as a doomsayer or sun-downer—or simply a “crackpot.”
These self-styled prophetic gurus talk endlessly about the Book of Revelation—how massive hailstones will smash into houses, how the antichrist will rise and violently take over the world, how the moon will turn blood red, how all life in the ocean will cease…and on and on. In their viewpoint, Bible prophecy is largely bad news. If the scenarios they forecast were true, why would anyone want to believe in the future events they predict, in which almost everyone is doomed to hellfire except a small few?
No one wants to hear constant tragic reports. They would rather scour the world for inspirational stories and humorous events. In fact, people are built to long for positive news—a silver lining—a happy ending. Notice: “As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country” (Prov. 25:25).
In the face of terrible calamities, media organizations often attempt to divert the public’s attention toward some shred of good news. After the recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami—when entire towns were swept into the ocean, thousands were dead, and strong aftershocks continued—news organizations focused heavily on a single dog that refused to leave the side of another dog. While this tugged at the heartstrings, it and similar stories crowded out reports of what was really happening.
As the world grows darker, mankind will latch onto anything that brings even a hint of hope. But by highlighting superficial things, it will be unable to solve or forget its problems.
In addition, ignoring the march of terrible prophesied events and their meaning hides this good news from the masses. While Bible prophecy foretells the worst time to ever befall mankind, it also reveals that this time is followed by the most incredible period in history.
The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are the accounts of the human life of Jesus. In many translations, the text begins with the words, “The gospel according to…” While men have assigned various meanings to this word, the etymology of “gospel” reveals it refers to good news.
Notice how Jesus began His earthly ministry: “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel”—good news—“of the kingdom of God” (Mark 1:14).
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance defines the word preaching in this verse as “to herald (as a public crier),” “proclaim,” and “publish.” The term “kingdom” simply means government.
This verse reveals that a primary role of Jesus Christ was that of newscaster—bringing the good news of an event to occur 2,000 years later. Just as many newspaper mastheads contain the word “herald,” Christ also “published” these prophetic news reports in the Bible.
Many people miss the point here. Note that Jesus brought the good news—He was not the news itself, as so many erroneously teach.
Instead, Christ said that He would usher in a global supergovernment able to solve mankind’s greatest problems.
This message is outlined in the book of Isaiah: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder…Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever” (9:6-7).
Since falling for the devil’s slanted sales pitch in the Garden of Eden, mankind has been plagued with the sickness of deception, which has resulted in death, wars, diseases, and all troubles you see in the news. Contrarily, God’s coming kingdom will achieve world peace: “And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isa. 2:4).
Yet many will not believe. Clouded with bias against the Bible, or angered that God’s Word contradicts cherished religious beliefs, they will miss the good news ultimately heralded by today’s terrible reports.
So then, is today’s news simply useless? Certainly not! Daily news reports are an essential tool. Although they contain slant and bias, news sources provide the means to watch prophetic trends. At least nine times throughout the Olivet Prophecy found in the books of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus instructs His disciples to watch. (Read Luke 21:36).
Watching refers to closely following world events in the light of Bible prophecy. Jesus Christ explains the consequences of not watching in Revelation: “If therefore you shall not watch, I will come on you as a thief, and you shall not know what hour I will come upon you” (3:3).
Life as you know it is about to undergo a dramatic, 180-degree change. Examine news through the lens of Bible prophecy. Apply what you learn through The Real Truth magazine and you will notice that world events take on a new perspective. You may even find yourself asking, “How does the media miss this?”
Soon, however, no one will be able to ignore the meaning of cataclysmic events. As the world grows dimmer, contrived “hopeful” news will be much more difficult to find. Prophecy will continue to signal what is to come: the very worst news, setting the stage for the best news of all time.
This is what the media—and the public at large—misses.
Without correct Bible understanding, world events can only be seen as isolated events. One of the most powerful earthquakes recorded is just another example of “Mother Nature’s fury.” Protests over austerity measures are just another “symptom” of the global financial crisis. National alliances between historical enemies are just two countries learning to “get along.”
This need not be your viewpoint. Tie the events together and see them for what they are. Diligent Bible students who do this “have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto you do well that you take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the Day Star [Christ] arise in your hearts” (II Pet. 1:19).
With the world growing darker, be careful that the constant rush of tragic news does not fatigue or numb you. Remain vigilant: “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober” (I Thes. 5:6).
Pay attention to world events—and their deeper significance—and keep in sight the good news of the coming world supergovernment poised to solve all of mankind’s problems.
To learn more about the incredible good news of the kingdom of God, read David C. Pack’s book Tomorrow’s Wonderful World – An Inside View!