Several weeks ago, a friend of mine asked me a very interesting question about my line of work, one I honestly hadn’t put much thought toward.
“Is media reform even possible in our country?”
His question is, I’m sure, shared by thousands if not millions of people nationwide.
Is there any going back? Is there any righting this ship?
We know from surveys that a large number of people in this country simply do not trust the media. A 2016 study by Gallup found that only 32% of Americans have “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust in the news media (in 1976, this was 72%). I explore possible causes for this decline in a separate article here.
The question of possible reform carries with it an implication that something is inherently wrong with our media. I agree we have a problem. But I disagree that it’s a media problem.
For so long, we’ve stressed over how we’re going to fix what’s on TV, in our newscasts, or on the dreaded social media.
The big entertainment corporations produce content like The Hunt (humans hunting other humans for sport) or Cuties (complete with the sexual exploitation of 11-year-olds).
Our news media has slowly and painfully declined in their reporting, to the point where now the majority of people have trouble believing what reporters and anchors are telling them.
We wonder how our society has reached such a place of moral degradation.
So, what is the answer?
America, just like every nation, city, business, class, and family on the planet, consists of people. Humans are the substance that make these entities what they are.
Humans made Apollo 11 successful, and humans made the Nazi regime evil.
Human beings are the defining quality of every entity here on earth. So why would American media and culture be any different?
The understanding of this principle is crucial when pursuing reform of any kind, especially reform in culture.
The American media is simply a reflection (an extremely vivid and honest one) of the American people. The news stations are politically polarized, just like the people. The TV shows and Netflix originals display a vast moral disparity, just like the people.
As stated above, humans are the determining factor. Always. When the people are split and divided, it can’t be any surprise that what comes through the television set looks the same. When people are driven by hate, doubt, and fear, lacking any true moral compass, you can be confident that the content produced in movies and shows will follow suit.
Our country doesn’t have a media problem, any more than it has a gun problem, an alcohol problem, or a needle problem.
The issue exists much deeper than any talking point or governmental regulation can reach.
Our country has a heart problem.
When you subtract any sort of moral footing from the equation, the difference is what we’re seeing today: Chaos, hatred, violence, confusion, deceit, etc.
Jesus Christ has been largely abandoned by our country, and the current state of our media is simply another repercussion of that rejection.
However, there is hope.
Media reform is possible, but it looks a lot more like people reform than anything else. Many Americans are God-fearing, Jesus-following examples of what it takes to truly steer a nation back to the Lord.
On September 26, tens of thousands of people stood on the National Mall in Washington D.C., participating in an event called the Prayer March. Led by Vice President Mike Pence, Franklin Graham, and Michael W. Smith, the masses spent hours in prayer and worship to God for our country. With an additional 3 million people watching online, the crowds started at the Lincoln Memorial and walked to the U.S. Capitol, stopping at several iconic locations along the way to pray for specific areas of America.
At the beginning of this walk, those thousands of people prayed specifically for repentance, and for the healing and redemptive power of God to work in America.
A proactive response is required to bring about actual reform, in any given area of our life or country. Along with political involvement, activism, volunteering, etc., if you don’t approve of what’s on TV or how the media is handling the news, I would strongly encourage you to pray for those people.
Pray that the directors, producers, writers, reporters, and everyone else would develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Christ has continued to be the answer to people’s vast array of problems for a very long time.
No matter what you’re looking for, the answer is Jesus.
Maybe you need direction in your life.
Maybe a close relationship has fallen through.
Maybe you feel rejected, disowned, or discouraged.
Maybe you disapprove of what’s coming through the TV every night and you doubt that it could ever change.
Regardless of what you face, the answer is the same: Jesus Christ, and a relationship with Him.
I love the way C.S. Lewis put it while preaching the famous "The Weight of Glory" sermon.
“He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only.”
...if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).