Mrs. Karin Hildur Ollengren, the new minister of interior affairs, issued this week a sharp warning against ‘fake news’. She alleged that foreign powers are also interested in influencing all kinds of political processes in the Netherlands, and that they do so by large-scale attempts to bombard the Dutch people with ‘fake news’. She pointed to Russia as one of the main culprits. It is therefore, so it appears not only the United States where the Putin administration–according to steadily growing evidence–is guilty of this kind of practices. Mrs. Theresa May, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, just days ago accused the Russians of meddling in British affairs by spreading fake news. Unfortunately, technological developments in the domain of the social media have made it much easier to spread fake news at an ever larger scale.
But fake news is not the only, and perhaps not the biggest, problem if we want to know what happens in the world of politics and other domains. We must also realize that all news sources have their own specific ‘color’, and report the news from a particular perspective. Since a few months I subscribe to the Nederlands Dagblad–a solidly christian newspaper. I had been a subscriber some years ago and recently decided to come back. (Very little sport news and very little attention for entertainment news suits me fine!). This newspaper does (I think) some excellent reporting, but the selection as to what gets into the paper and how it is reported, is, of course, very much ‘colored’ by its philosophy. During the past week or so, the reader might have thought that the talks about a fusion of two smaller branches of Christian Reformed Dutch Protestantism, keeps a large section of the Dutch population on the edge of their seat. I also read a number of other (on-line) newspapers to ensure a balance, to discover what is considered most important in other circles and how things are reported elsewhere.
The above also applies to the news sources in the Adventist Church. The different media select what they want to report and all have their own approach and perspective. The flagship journal op the world church (Adventist Review) is mostly filled with ‘good’ news, about the growth of the church and about all kinds of positive initiatives. At times (too often, I tend to think) it seems that the journal’s main mission is to promote the president of the church, pastor Wilson. And to a considerable degree this is also true of other media, such as Adventist News Network and Hope Channel and many division websites.
However, there are also some media that are far more critical, write about topics that the official church media tend to avoid and provide investigating reporting into things that are not so positive. Most prominent among these media are Spectrum and Adventist Today. They have a very important role. But they are, inevitably, also one-sided and report from a very different perspective as, for instance the Adventist Review. A church member who wants to form a balanced opinion of what is happening in his/her church should follow media that operate with different ‘colors’, in print or in digital form.
(Doing this will also make it a lot easier to unmask the fake news about the church that so often finds its way into the social media.)