Journalists aren’t our enemy: The hates got to stop / A.J. Hendry

Punching down on journalists might be fast becoming New Zealand’s number #1 sport.

The narrative of the “fake news media” which gained momentum under Trump, has only continued to grow and gain strength within certain groups within our communities since the explosion of Covid19 into our everyday realities.

Now, I know trashing journalists isn’t something new. It happens across society, in all sorts of different communities and spaces.

But, when I see it happening in the Christian community it just feels that much more… off.

As a follower of Jesus my faith calls me to Love those who persecute me, to pray for my enemies, and to respond to hatred and ridicule with self-sacrificial Love.

Now, I’m not saying that journalists and “the media” in general are my enemy, or even the enemy of Christians and the Church, but there are some within the Christian community who believe this to be true.

There is a belief within some elements of our community that the media are working towards undermining our rights, that they are lying to us, that they are seeking to drive a narrative that ends in the enslavement of all humanity.

Now, this isn’t my personal belief, but I want us to humor this for a second.

If this is your view, I want to encourage you to think about this with me for a second. If it is true that “the media” is really working against us, and is antagonistic to the church and well Christians in general, then what response are those of us who follow Jesus called to give?

Well, Jesus already laid down the example we’re to follow, and set the tone for how his followers are meant to engage with those people they perceive to be their enemies. In a sermon that he gave many years ago, at a time when He and his people – the Jews – were suffering under the Roman Boot of colonization, he turned to his friends and whānau, people expierencing brutal oppression first hand, people who had lost loved ones to the whims of their violent dictator, who were expierencing poverty and were barely able to feed their own kids due to the unjust taxation policies of the Empire, he turned to these people and said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven (as quoted by the bro Matthew, chapter 5:43-48).” Rather than respond with vitriol or hatred, we are commanded to Love, to pray for those who persecute us, to sacrifice our own lives for the sake of even those who wish our demise. He doesn’t give us a lot of wriggle room here; in fact, he connects this sort of Love with what it means to be counted as a child of God.

You could paraphrase this here by saying, “if you want to call yourself a Christian, then you can’t hate, kill, or demean those who you have considered your enemies. Instead, you are to Love them.”

And yet, so many of us have fallen into this trap of degrading and dehumanizing those we believe are against us.

When I see those who share my faith being derogatory about a group of people simply because they practice journalism – whether it be in conversation or on social – it saddens me. It is also such a poor witness of the man we say we’re all here to serve and follow.

But I also want to be clear here, people, who also happen to practice journalism, aren’t our enemies. Despite the rhetoric that has been dominating so many conversations, journalists aren’t monsters trying to indoctrinate us and take away our rights. They’re people, doing a really tough job.

Day in and day out, journalists are on the frontline of stories that matter. Asking tough questions, reporting tough answers. Some are tasked with keeping our leader’s and those in power to account, scrutinizing their idea’s, and exposing the consequences of their decisions, especially when those decisions have perverse outcomes for our communities. Others are charged with listening to the stories of those who have been pushed to the margins of our society, raising their voices, so that we, and the powers that be, cannot ignore them. And still others, have the hard, grueling task, of being there – whether it be the scene of a horrendous car accident, an act of God that has caused devastation in our communities, or a terrorist attack which has destroyed the lives of far too many of our whānau.

I have no doubt, that this job takes a toll on the mental and emotional health of those charged with performing it. Hearing these stories day in and day out, engaging in these hard conversations so publicly, getting such personal backlash to what you write and report, that can’t be easy.

But, journalists play an important role in our society. It was journalists who first highlighted the human rights crisis that was barring our unhoused whānau from accessing their right to housing. It has been journalists who have consistently kept the voices of those pushed to the margins of society at the top of the conversation, demanding our leaders listen, requiring our politicians to be held to account.

Now, I don’t want you to think I’ve got some idealized view of journalists. I have no doubt that at times some people working in this role get it wrong, whether it be in the approach, the framing, or in the detail. I know that at times that can be unhelpful and even cause harm to some communities.

But, like any profession, there is a diverse group of people practicing in this role, some will get it wrong, others will have an off day, still others are going to smash it out of the park.

At the end of the day, they’re just human.

But then, that’s the point.

Personally, I am thankful for those journalist’s I’ve met, and that I know, that have prioritized the voices of those our society have marginalized. I’ve appreciated the care and compassion that these journalists have handled these complex and important stories. I’ve valued the courage these journalists have to demand real answers from our leaders, refusing to allow them to look away from the pain and suffering that their policies and decisions have influence over.

Sadly, I think journalists are always going to bear the brunt of our collective anxiety.

But, I hope we can remember that behind that article, screen or radio, is not a monster, but a person just trying to do their job.

And regardless of what you may think of the perspective offered, dehumanizing and degrading comments about journalists are not only mean and cruel, but for those of us who follow Jesus, they’re just not The Way.


A.J. Hendry is a Laidlaw College graduate, and now a Youth Development Worker and housing advocate, working in the Youth Housing and Homelessness space. He leads a service supporting rangatahi experiencing homelessness and is also an advocate working collectively to end youth homelessness in Aotearoa. He is also the curator and creator of When Lambs Are Silent.

5 thoughts on “Journalists aren’t our enemy: The hates got to stop / A.J. Hendry

  1. A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight. The scales where the mainstream media are concerned are VERY unbalanced. Wisdom cries out to the unwise. If you promote one narrative excluding the other side then don’t expect anything less than what you get as a result. Angey people who want the other side of the story told. Meaning, same amount of opposing interviews, air time, public input from both sides equally, same amount of doctors being interviewed from both sides. You get the picture. A just balance is not happening where the media is concerned. Don’t be alarmed by the response whanau. Pray the media will seek truth and stories on both sides of the fence. Kia Ora


  2. I believe most journalism is fake news on both sides of the coin.
    But, it does not matter to me because I follow The Holy Spirits guidance to truth.


  3. I have to say I agree with you on this. I feel so uncomfortable when Christian friends and family make derogatory comments about the Prime Minister and Journalists. Disagree sure, protest definitely, but name calling and plain bully type talk makes me feel sick. Also being called sheeple is not helpful. It’s belittling. Would Jesus talk like this? I don’t think so.
    We are living in trying times. Nothing new historically but new for us.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I notice that those people who criticise journalists still listen to and watch the news. If they really don’t like journalists they should stop watching.
    As the old saying goes, “If you don’t like the message, kill the messenger.” That’s what people seem to be doing.

    Thank you for this excellent post.


    1. whenlambsaresilent 24/10/2021 — 6:55 pm



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