Now…the news! Seven decades ago these words made people perk up and listen. Hearing a news program over radio was quite the new thing in the 1920s. But today, advanced technology and mass media delivers an excess volume of news to us, from anywhere on the globe, minute-by-minute—24 hours each day.
News today is not just a global thing. We are even able to receive news broadcasts from outer space. I was spellbound by the July 21, 1969, TV news broadcast of Neil Armstrong’s lunar step and now-famous words, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
But we must ask some important questions about the news. Is all the news we can hear or watch worthwhile? Is it true? Is it meaningful? Does the news inform us what we need to know about our world, our leaders, our governments, our cultures?
Recent nuclear explosion tests in India and Pakistan show us how menacing and life threatening our world truly is. Yet, on our nightly news we are more likely to be given only an upbeat conclusion for these events.
Are you shocked by these events? You should be!
Nearly one year ago, I heard ex-president George Bush optimistically tell an audience of businessmen, business students, state and local officials that we no longer need to fear nuclear weapons. This statement and other statements made by Mr. Bush were big local news. Unfortunately, our local news misled us. Events in India and Pakistan show us that we still need to fear a nuclear holocaust!
Those of us who write for The Trumpet do not desire to be negative or pessimistic. But we do want to help you boldly face some of the stark realities of our world. We live in a very dangerous time. Current events are hurtling our world into a catastrophic, cataclysmic confrontation between nations. Yet practically everyone seems to be considerably confused about how all of these current events add up. Why? We all must face the fact that our nightly, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute news is failing us miserably! Today’s newscasters and news programs cannot explain the importance or meaning behind current events. You need to know why this problem exists and what to do about it.
Invented for Entertainment
So where is the Achilles heel in our modern news? To answer this question we must first learn some of the history behind radio and its later cousin, television.
Some historians trace the roots of radio and television all the way back to the 1752 experiments of Benjamin Franklin. Known as the grandfather of American journalism, Mr. Franklin was also a great inventor. When he flew his kite in a thunderstorm, he actually founded the study of atmospheric electricity. But it wasn’t until 1837, with Morse’s invention of the telegraph, that electricity and electrical instruments would be used for communication over long distance. Morse’s dots and dashes, though crude by today’s standards, represented a great step forward in the electronic transmission of communication.
Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone in 1876 added the potential for voice and other sounds to be transmitted over telegraph lines. Thomas Edison contributed to the development of electronic communication when he discovered that sparks jumping between two electrodes tended to spread out in all directions. This fact led to the eventual discovery of radio waves. Not long after Edison’s discovery, a German scientist, Heinrich Hertz, discovered that electromagnetic waves contained various frequencies. However, he never saw the communication potential behind this discovery. These electromagnetic waves would later be called radio waves.
It was Marconi who finally began to pull it all together when he invented the wireless telegraph. He is also credited with producing the first electronic newscast. Edward Bliss, Jr., writer-producer for Edward R. Murrow, writes, “In 1898, through facilities provided by Marconi’s newly founded wireless company, the Dublin Daily Express received minute-by-minute coverage of the Kingstown Regatta. This was wireless telegraphy—no sportscaster’s voice was heard—and the audience was minuscule. But it was news, and it was heard over the air. Because of this success, the New York Herald the next year commissioned Marconi to provide wireless coverage of the America’s Cup races…. With these two yachting events at the close of the nineteenth century, news and radio were joined. Broadcast journalism, in dots and dashes, was born” (Edward Bliss, Jr., Now the News: The Story of Broadcast Journalism, , 1991, p. 2). Herein lies the weakness of our modern broadcasting systems. Too much of it focuses on frivolous fluff such as the entertainment and sports world. Our most popular TV shows today are the gossipy, seedy talk shows. And we must recognize this: So “the news” doesn’t become “the snooze,”writers, news directors and journalists sensationalize most of our news. Modern news is big entertainment!
We must discern this all-important truth. Radio and TV were developed primarily to deliver entertainment and make money. Granted, although much of our modern communication technology was developed for maritime industry and the military, it was our society’s craving for entertainment that popularized the media. Historians agree that radio and TV providing hard, factual news was only an afterthought.
Radio Changed Society
Reginald Fessenden is credited with transmitting the first voice over radio waves in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1901. But it wasn’t until 1921 that the first marketable radio was sold by Westinghouse. The development of the radio then grew rapidly. Once radio came on the scene, our society was permanently changed. Radio opened the door not only to mass communication, but mass influence and mass social change.
From the early 1920s, radio held its grip on the world until the substantive development of television in the mid-’40s. Color television made its debut on CBS on June 25, 1951. What most do not recognize is that our major television networks of today—ABC, NBC, and CBS—all began in radio. Many in the radio industry never believed that TV would really catch hold. But quick advancements in technology ensured TV’s immense acceptance and predominance. Few in this world could now imagine life without TV.
High Dollar Show Business
But why did radio and television see such rapid development? Their captains of industry saw the big dollars associated with the medium. Radio and TV have made some people very rich. A radio or TV in every home opened incredible markets to sell, sell, sell. The advertising and sponsorship dollars associated with radio decades ago were astounding. But the advertising dollars associated with TV today are astronomical. During the 1998 Super Bowl, advertisers paid, on average, $1.3 million dollars per commercial. So what does all this mean for the news?
Advertising and sponsorship dollars drive programming. Only the best-rated programs will bring in the high dollars. So writers, producers and program managers work hard for ratings. News broadcasts are no exception. Broadcast journalists drive themselves for the best ratings. Writing about TV ratings, Edward Bliss points out, “Broadcasters charge advertisers according to the size and composition of audience. Since ratings measure audience, and audience determines revenue, commercial broadcasters, not surprisingly, pay the ratings charts close attention. For a network program, each rating point, small as it may appear, represents 931,000 households. Since advertisers buying 30 seconds of prime time in 1988 might pay $84,000 for each thousand of these households, obviously revenue in the millions of dollars is involved….
“In pursuit of higher ratings, some programmers have taken television news, which inevitably has show business aspects, and made it show business, pure and simple. Abetted by consultants, who are paid to improve ratings, they offer what entertains and excites, rather than what viewers need to know…” (ibid., pp. 267-268). Think seriously about this quote. Do you understand it in all of its significance? Ratings often decide the content of news broadcasts! Surely this fact would raise reasonable doubts in your mind about your news. The above quote shows us that we may never hear about a news item that could cause ratings to fall. Well, what if we really needed to know about that news item?
When you watch your nightly news, you must be able to decipher between what is valuable news and what is entertainment for ratings. You must also recognize that your nightly news may never deliver the cold, hard facts that could directly affect your life.
Palatable Packaged News
I don’t wish to paint too extreme of a picture here. There are some dedicated, thorough and top quality broadcast journalists and news programs. We cannot ignore, however, the fact that the news we often receive is managed and prepackaged before it reaches us—the public.
Is all the news you hear on radio or see on television the truth? How much of it is real fact vs. commentary or opinion? How much of it is entertainment? If we are going to be a truly informed people, we must ask these types of questions. We simply cannot rely on modern broadcasting alone to deliver us the news we need. Many factors influence the news we see and hear.
Even though Americans live in the land of free speech, censorship is still a reality. Many broadcast journalists admit that one of the major problems they face is getting their news through to you. For example, most military operations are censored from public view. News coverage of the Iraq war in 1991 created an incredible controversy over military censorship. Why? Ted Turner’s CNN proved capable of broadcasting pictures of military operations as they happened. Journalists could deliver news instantly—to both sides in the conflict. This fact drove the military crazy with concern, and understandably so. The enemy could watch our own military strategy develop on television. And what if our soldiers were losing—the whole world could watch in real time. I do not desire to debate the issue of censorship. I simply want to show that it does exist.
Realize that censorship can come about because of many different reasons. We’ve discussed ratings and the military. But there is another simple way. The man over the journalist can stop the news from getting through.
Most experts in the field of broadcast journalism would agree that Edward R. Murrow was the most talented and responsible journalist of our time. He gained considerable respect and notoriety while he covered the Battle of Britain during World War II. Murrow earned the respect of the King, military officials and Winston Churchill. It was Murrow who put CBS ahead of the pack in news reporting. Edward Bliss states, “It was the radio reporting from London, more than any other reporting, which brought the Battle of Britain into the consciousness of America. And it was Edward R. Murrow, more than any other radio reporter, who caught the listeners’ attention. Radio had dimensions—instantaneity and sound—which newspapers did not have, and no reporter in radio could match Murrow, working in the medium for which he seemed to have been made. There were the childhood Bible readings that taught him the power of language, the rich, controlled voice trained in college, the study of military science and history, varied radio experience and wide travel. Intelligence, seemingly inexhaustible energy, complete dedication to what he was doing, and the integrity which inspired trust also helped make him, poet and pragmatist, the foremost broadcaster of his time” (ibid., pp. 129-130). Murrow was an impressive individual. He was a true professional. He drove himself hard to deliver the truth—to make his stories live. Yet he was censored for attempting to reveal criticism of General MacArthur’s deployment of U.S. troops during the Korean War.
Mr. Bliss writes, “It was during this early period that a Murrow broadcast was killed, not by the military, but by CBS. The date was August 14, 1950, a time when it appeared that the Communists might push the outnumbered American force off the peninsula. Murrow prepared an eight-minute broadcast critical of the deployment of American troops. He quoted unidentified officers, ‘some of them wearing stars,’ as calling MacArthur’s strategy ‘folly.’ When CBS executives received a transcript to the broadcast Murrow wanted to make, they decided to kill it on the grounds that the Communists might use it as propaganda…. On this occasion, the most respected broadcast voice of World War II was not trusted” (p. 263). The company Murrow made famous eventually censored him. Why? The reality is people just don’t like unfavorable or disagreeable news.
Most people today want news that can be easily swallowed. No one likes the taste of bad news. There are times when we need to know bad news. By saying this, I am not advocating pessimism as a way of life. We must be optimistic. However, looking only at the bright side of issues does not make the dark side of things go away. This world needs some serious solutions to some serious problems. We can’t run from our problems any longer. It is rare today to be able to find a journalist who can deliver the hard news—with meaning—and also provide a solution.
Missing Dimension in News
Many today have their favorite newscaster. You can name your own. We allow them into our homes daily. They are familiar to us. We have been conditioned to trust them. We can easily forget that we are listening to and being influenced by an individual who probably has radically different views, philosophies and opinions than ours. We expect them to be unbiased. But are they? A newscaster is supposed to be impartial and present all sides to a story. But do they? Actually, they do not.
A newscaster should give us the meaning behind the news. But they cannot. How often do you hear clear-cut conclusions or solutions to today’s problems on your nightly news? Admit it. We hear issue after issue, but no solutions. Why is that?
Broadcast news journalists don’t give us conclusions or solutions because they don’t have a conclusion or solution. This world has some of the most highly educated and well trained journalists. There are many dedicated men and women working diligently to give us the news. Yet they don’t really understand the news they report. Why? The answer is simple, yet astounding.
Most journalists share one bias that removes the real understanding and meaning behind current world events. The bias? Journalists leave God out of the picture.
This world has wholeheartedly accepted the theory of evolution. The most educated of this world have accepted a creation without a creator. Herbert W. Armstrong, one of the most well known religious broadcasters in the last half of this century, wrote, “The basic premise for knowledge production in our time has been the evolutionary concept. It has been the eyeglasses through which all questions have been viewed. Yet it remains unproved, and by its very nature it is a theory not subject to proof. It is a FAITH. And to question it is—to those who embrace this faith—academic heresy!” (Missing Dimension in Sex, 1981, p. 12). Realize this! Today, the theory of evolution guides your news. This means that one side of the story—the most important side—is missing.
You see, what you don’t get on your broadcast news is God’s perspective.
The missing dimension in today’s news is the knowledge about God and His purpose for creating man. There are vital questions still unanswered by theologians, educators and scientists. These questions are: Who is God? What is God? Is there a spirit world? Does a devil exist? What is man? Why is man? Where is he going? What is the way? The revealed answers to these questions would, if given their proper place, provide the real meaning behind today’s headlines.
The Bible is not taken seriously today. Yet many journalists borrow terms from the Bible to explain the news. Recent global natural disasters and disease epidemics have been described as apocalyptic. A group of scientists is being referred to as the Jeremiahs. Their statements about man-caused crises such as the population explosion and pollution are classified as Jeremiads. The Bible is often viewed as an outdated book. Many feel the Bible cannot speak to our time. But doesn’t the popular use of Bible terms indicate that it is a very pertinent book for our time? Your Bible deserves a second look.
Jesus Christ—Great Newscaster
To be honest, the only conclusions and solutions for today’s problems were recorded for us in the pages of the Bible thousands of years ago. The Bible is the only book on earth that can explain the why behind current events. But the educated of this world will not accept this fact. In the Bible, God states this about Himself, “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isa. 46:9-10). God is the only being in the entire universe who has the right perspective on today’s news. This verse shows that God has known for years in advance what today’s headlines would be. And God is the only being in the universe who can tell us what world events actually mean.
God is willing to give you the understanding behind world news, if you are willing to listen and obey Him.
God wants you to know where current events are leading. He sent Jesus Christ to this earth nearly 2,000 years ago with a message about today’s headlines. The historian Mark records in his gospel, “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15). Today the word gospel conjures up all kinds of religious sentiment. But it is really not a religious word. The word for “gospel” in the Greek actually means good news. Jesus Christ was the greatest newscaster of all time.
Signs of the Times
God sent Jesus Christ to this earth to show us not only the major events to take place, but also how it all works out! Jesus Christ fully understood the complexity of our fast-paced, turbulent world. That understanding is recorded for us in the prophecies of both the Old and New Testaments. Realize, prophecy is simply news written in advance. Although prophecy does contain some bad news, the overall picture is very positive. Jesus Christ plans to step in and stop this world from destroying all life on the planet.
Jesus Christ expected the religious people of His day to be able to understand the current events happening in their world. But they did not. Speaking to the corrupt Pharisees and Sadducees, He stated, “When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” (Matt. 16:2-3). Why couldn’t the religious leaders of Christ’s day understand world events? They were spiritually corrupt. The Pharisees and Sadducees acted religious, but they were far from God. Why can’t people understand what is happening today? As a society we are spiritually corrupt. We talk very religiously. But we too are far from God.
Only God-fearing people can understand today’s news. The main key to understanding today’s world news is to get back to God. That is not oversimplified; it is true.
Watch These Events
Jesus Christ still has a message for us today. Are you listening to that message? Christ still expects His disciples to know the signs of the times. He commands us today, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36). We must become skilled students of current events. Jesus Christ says we are to watch. But what should we watch?
Jesus Christ revealed in His famous Olivet prophecy that we should focus on major global and international events. These major events are recorded for us in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. Study these chapters. Christ warned us to watch the confusion in modern religion. Religious deceit is to be the hallmark of our time. Christ also said we are to watch wars, natural disasters, famines, disease epidemics and the economic tension between nations. The Olivet prophecy reveals the major trends in world events leading up to the return of Jesus Christ. Today’s world tensions show that the return of Jesus Christ is not far away.
In the Olivet prophecy, Jesus Christ shows us that we must learn not to waste our time on minor, local or day-to-day events. We must strive to get the big picture. Full understanding of today’s news will take time and study. A quick glance over your evening newspaper or a half-hour news program will not give you the depth that you need to grasp the significance of world events. You must make time for reading quality books, newspapers and magazines about the subjects outlined for us by Jesus Christ. Then you must teach yourself to think and analyze what you read.
And, after all this, you will still need help in understanding the news. Where will you get that help? Only The Trumpet magazine and The Key of David broadcast can give you God’s perspective and the only real meaning behind today’s news. Only The Trumpet and Key of David can provide solutions to our world’s seemingly complex and unsolvable problems.
Do you truly want to understand world news? Then become a faithful student of The Trumpet. Watch The Key of David regularly. It is our goal to focus on the major, world-shaking trends discussed by Jesus Christ. We plan to keep you informed and up to date. We want to give you what you need to know.
We promise to make the study of current events exciting and thrilling, without show biz. Most of all, we guarantee to give you the truth! And the truly good news about this—there is no cost to you. Your subscription to The Trumpet has already been paid.
Follow these simple steps and when you hear Now…the news!—you will better understand the news.
Sidebar: Your Ad Does Not Go Here
Open any regular newsmagazine and the first thing you will notice is an eye-grabbing advertisement.
Then you’ll notice another. And another. Page after page, advertisements scream, prance, cajole and clutter, front to back.
We’ve seen it so much we may not give it a second thought. But there is a reason why you should be concerned—beyond just its being a distraction from the news you’re trying to read.
Those advertisements fund that newsmagazine. The reporters, editors and artists hardly receive their paychecks from the little money you pay for a subscription. The news you’re reading is a business. And the readers are a mere part of the clientele.
There is no escaping this fact: If such a news source says something unpopular, advertisers have utter prerogative and freedom to stop their flow of advertising dollars. That’s a problem no magazine can afford to get itself into.
Except one that doesn’t rely one whit on ad money.
The Trumpet is a news source that is free to print what it pleases, unpopular or not. We receive no advertising revenue. And not only that—we go one step further. We receive no money from subscriptions. The Trumpet is free of charge.
That doesn’t mean this is a free publication. A magazine of this quality costs money. But our financial support comes from thousands of people around the globe who voluntarily aid and support this work.
What that means is, we have the utter prerogative and freedom to print the truth.