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Thursday, March 27, 2014

"Go Tell It" (Jim Killam and Lincoln Brunner)

TITLE: Go Tell It: How--and Why--to Report God's Stories in Words, Photos, and Videos
AUTHOR: Jim Killam and Lincoln Brunner
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014, (176 pages).

You have a great story to tell. You have spent years serving faithfully. You have also witnessed many beautiful moments of how God has worked mightily. Unfortunately, your story is untold. Your witness is hidden somewhere. Maybe, you want to tell it but you lack the know-how. What if there is a way to tell it, that more people can be blessed? What if there is a way to spread the good news so that God's Name and Work can be shared more broadly?

Enters this very helpful book about Christian journalism. Just like the gospel writer, Luke who aims to record down meticulously the works of Christ, we too can learn to exercise the Great Commission through faithful and accurate story telling and gospel reporting. We can learn to report what God has been doing, what he had done, and what is he up to. We learn about how details can be very important in the telling of any story. We learn to choose the most significant parts in order to strengthen our focus. We need to hone in on the central question, and to report the truth. Yet, this truth reporting has to be done sensitively especially in places where mission work can be risky, even dangerous. The authors provide some guidelines such as:

  • Understanding the contexts of the mission
  • Publish wisely, with guidance from the people from the field
  • Adopt the Three Strands Rule: Name, Location, Ministry

At the same time, we are reminded that our world is filled with journalism that is more selling rather than telling. Understand the ethical implications. Learn to observe without obstructing; reporting without falsifying; and crediting God for what God has done. Know that freedoms differ from place to place. The clue is that Christian reporting is less about telling people what to think or do, but more about showing people the way far enough so that they can find the truth and act on the truth themselves.

There are tips on how to report bad news or "monsters," conflicts, and then search for universal themes. The main elements of any story include the central character, the conflict, the resolution, the biblical themes, and the story of grace and redemption. Other kinds of reporting include interviewing where one seeks accuracy on the one hand, and maintaining a cordial relationship on the other. Stories also need scenes in which the story plots are fleshed out. Photography and audio-visual aids are discussed too. A nice camera is not sufficient. One also needs some technical skills of a photographer and an eye for the relevant details. Movies must tell a story.

Christian journalism is vital. Good journalistic skills by Christians are essential if the truth is to be shared and spread throughout the world. This book is a primer for any budding journalist who wants to capture stories of the world from a Christian perspective. I am not a fan of using "Christian" as a prefix to things or activities. Personally, I prefer to distinguish between good vs bad journalism rather than Christian vs non-Christian journalism. For some of the best news reporting are not necessarily Christian. Some of the worst reporting can be done by Christians. The aim is to enable everyone everywhere to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. While there are instances where stories need bridges and links to move from one point to another, we need to maintain a truthful stance, to use whatever we have truthfully to communicate the truth accurately and faithfully. For Christians, the motivation toward journalism is a noble one. It is precisely because the gospel comes to us through the Word, we need to learn to use words, and every possible reporting tools to witness the hand of God working in this world. It is a calling.

I was hoping to read more about reporting in social media, blogging, and the new media opportunities but was disappointed that the book stopped short on that. Hopefully, in future editions, the author will incorporate more of these new technologies and their implications on modern reporting and journalism. That said, this book has refreshed my own zeal on the importance of journalism. Good journalism that is.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Moody Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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