Posted by: riverchilde | February 28, 2011

A new definition of news hound

The term “news hound” describes a dedicated professional reporter, sniffing around for a story and then passionately digging deep for the details and the truth. Today, every media user is a news hound. So many media sites, so many different perspectives. As an example, let me share a recent Facebook conversation about the Wisconsin protests that went something like this:

Scott from New Mexico (born and raised in Wisconsin): Speaking from a “what’s in the press” perspective here…
First, for the Wisconsin governor’s perspective, is there anything reported anyplace, or has the governor offered anything, that would suggest that the state employees retain rights in collective bargaining?
Second, for the union’s perspective, is there anything reported anyplace, or has the union offered anything, that would suggest that they are willing to concede in the area of the employees making more contributions to their benefits, so that the state budget might be balanced?
Maybe those things have been reported or discussed. I just have to admit that I haven’t read everything out there (or offered to me, for that matter).  Thanks for any who care to give feedback.
Doug (Wisconsin high school classmate and a teacher in Wisconsin): No to your first question. Yes to your second, a week ago! :-/

Pat  (Scott’s mother): Gotta tune in to cable news, SW. I don’t think he was as detailed before he was elected, such as outright saying “I want to stop the collective bargaining.” Yet he did say he would do what ever he must to balance our budget.
Yes, union members are agreeable to spend more of their own $$ for a few benefits. It is only the collective bargaining thing that has them all upset and the senators hiding out in Illinois.

Nic: Compared to college educated workers, union workers make 10% less on average. The argument they make good wages overall has no weight. Of course fox news won’t air that kind of relevant information, you have to research it separately.
 Pat: Doesn’t some of the state’s money go to help pay for some of the benefits of union workers, who earn good salaries and can afford to contribute to things that possibly some folks in the private sector can’t? Listening to the discussion on tv right now. Is collective bargaining a right or a privilege?? Times have changed since unions were first organized in the 50s.
Doug:  Pat, I appreciate your sincere questions. Here is how my union benefits work… (remainder edited for the sake of brevity).
Pat: Thanks for your reply, Doug. I ask questions to get answers so that I might better understand both sides of the situation. Guess I need to [do]  lots more research so that I’ll ask more intelligent questions.. and I’ll try.
Nic:  I’m 27 years old and have realized I cannot trust anything on cable news networks.
The cable networks are solely driven by profits, not facts. It’s easier to get and retain viewers with emotionally stimulating content versus facts. Their financial statements prove that as well! I like to read articles from various publications to get a more rounded perspective. Luckily google and the Internet provide an easy means to do so 🙂
What struck me about this conversation is that people were clearly articulating a suspicion of traditional “interpretive” sources (ie. media outlets), a belief that a person has to go dig out the truth from a variety of sources, a feeling that the task is overwhelming if tackled alone, and an inclination to tap into the social network to develop a clearer picture of what’s going on by going to those who have vested (and sometimes competing) interests in an issue. While this reveals a need for filtering, it also reflects our pluralistic society’s desire to examine issues from a multitude of perspectives. As an acquaintance recently said “The internet doesn’t show us both sides of  issue; it shows us 18 sides of the issue.”
This conversation could take us in many different directions, but my personal orientation leads me to wonder if it is possible to initiate similarly lively, but civil, social-network conversations around the biblical text, bringing forth a variety of viewpoints for a rounder view of Scripture–to become “biblical bloodhounds” as Harry Wendt of Crossways International puts it. I think of the richness of  multiple perspectives that Mark Allen Powell tells of in reading the story of the prodigal son in community with others of differing ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Can we find that richness through social-network conversations around the biblical text? In “The Practice of Communicative Theology,” Matthias Scharer and Bernd Jochen Hilberath ask: “Can the fundamental Christian message effectively be transmitted in a communication system that apparently knows no borders, a system into which information can be added or modified at will, a system open to anyone and everyone, but demanding no personal commitment and allowing one to exit at will?” (p. 50).
The crux of the matter, I think, lies in their next question: “For all the abundance of transportable information, is this not a communication that remains devoid of relationship?” A corollary question might be: Are Facebook relationships deep enough, strong enough, safe enough, and diverse enough to sustain such conversations about matters of biblical interpretation and faith? Can we play together nicely and fruitfully, digging in the sands of Scripture (without throwing it in each others’ eyes), on Facebook?

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