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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
               Friday, November 2 2001  

Pluralism

Yesterday, I demonstrated the number one "finding" made by my 11-year media study project as an adjunct staff member at Stanford University, that a stance of "neutrality" in covering controversial issues is bogus, misleading, and a betrayal of the trust of the publics the press and broadcast news media claim to serve. Our second most important finding was that the "solution" to the problem of pretended neutrality is a more sharply defined kind of pluralism than the lip service already given to "pluralism" in most general-circulation English-language media.

The study was undertaken as a follow-up to my master's thesis project at UCLA, which was turned into my book, The Reformation of Journalism. My graduate project asked the question, "How would a Christian approach to journalism differ from other approaches?" Exploring that question turned up the answer already cited ("it would not pretend to be neutral"). It's not a big leap, logically, to go from saying "we're not neutral, we stand here," to asking, "where do you stand?" and from there concluding that it's a good idea to encourage everyone to stand somewhere and to declare their "platform" (so to speak).

Advocating that the press generally take stands (or develop platforms) is a way of saying we are in favor of a social or cultural pluralism that is qualitatively different, for the most part, from our earlier, less sophisticated or thought-through ideas of democracy. Instead of "winner takes all" as the social ideal, we begin to see that a preferred approach, even a more democratic approach, may be "winner takes his bigger share, but the losers also get smaller but real shares (in terms of standing in our society), too." To me, this would be the best way of working out the often-seen bumper sticker slogan (which I suspect originates in some Catholic social ministries), "if you want peace, work for justice." Actually, to me a better slogan would be a more simple, "work for justice," though I admit that fewer people would be struck by that one as profound, and more people would think, mistakenly, that they know what it means.

This week's entries have been on a level not previously attempted for these postcards. Though I promise not to stay there or try to return there often, I hope it's been good exercise. As always, feedback and conversation are welcome. On Monday, look for a new bi-weekly department in the Postcard section.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Classifieds

Actual ad in the NY Times (fact or fiction?)
FOR SALE BY OWNER Complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica. 45 volumes. Excellent condition. $1,000 or best offer. No longer needed. Got married last weekend. Wife knows everything.

—Sent by Adam Cohen

Trials of faith

Never confuse the trial of faith with the ordinary discipline of life, because a great deal of what we call the trial of faith is the inevitable result of being alive. Faith, as the Bible teaches it, is faith in God coming against everything that contradicts Him - a faith that says, "I will remain true to God's character whatever He may do." The highest and the greatest expression of faith in the whole Bible is - "Though He slay me, yet will trust Him" (Job 13:15).
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Oswald Chambers
Sent by Judy Martin

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