Convincing vs. Confirming: The Role of the Media

I’ve been reading Quentin Schultze’s Communicating for Life: Christian Stewardship in Community and Media and while the title is horrible and awkward, the content itself has been somewhat helpful.

commuincating-for-lifeIn chapter 9, Schultze takes up the topic of the role of media. Drawing on some previous work from Jean Shepherd, Schultze purports that “In a fallen world, we seek media that confirm what we want to believe, not necessarily what is accurate and truthful. Perhaps the media have their greatest impact not in changing what we believe and value but in affirming what we already believe and value. Especially in a market system, in which large audiences are required, the media accept us as we are and encourage us to be even more that way.” (pp 126-127)

I found this vantage point from Schultze to be especially enlightening. I’ve always viewed the media (TV in particular) as a means that advertisers and producers use to convince people of their views or their products but Schultze states the opposite. Rather than acting in the role of convincer, the media is acting in a role of confirmer. I resonate with this deeply as I’ve always been quick to blame the media for promoting poor family values, sexual promiscuity, violence, and moral degeneration (broad strokes here, but in general, there isn’t much of a Biblical worldview projected through our modern media). But what Schultze has opened my eyes to is that the media is not so much teaching and promoting but reiterating and regurgitating what is already present in the culture.

Romans 1:28-32 and man’s depravity came immediately to my mind:

“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (ESV)

After reading this chapter from Schultze, I think the way in which I take in media may be changing. Rather than reacting with judgment and condemnation of producers and advertisers when I watch something that slaps a Christian worldview in the face, my hope is that I would begin to respond with sympathy and a richer understanding of our depravity as a culture and the need for the gospel everywhere.

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~ by toddbumgarner on December 22, 2008 11:35 am.

One Response to “Convincing vs. Confirming: The Role of the Media”

  1. “Perhaps the media have their greatest impact not in changing what we believe and value but in affirming what we already believe and value.”

    From what I gather this is not a commentary on Christian media but I find it interesting from the perspective of a church video producer. I’ve always thought of the media I use as a way to enrich, and affirm the pastor’s message and our local church culture each and every week, so this kinda speaks to me in a unique way. Thanks for sharing and I hope that I haven’t sucked away all of your productivity to a little island somewhere between Australia and LA (or is it?) :-o.

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