Brody: Good journalism yields witness
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--When Christian journalists offer intelligent insights about the stories they cover, they increase the likelihood people will want to hear what they have to say about Jesus, David Brody said Oct. 11 at the Excellence in Journalism Banquet in Nashville, Tenn.
The banquet -- the culminating event of the eighth-annual Baptist Press Collegiate Journalism Conference -- featured award presentations for students in the fields of print journalism, photojournalism, broadcasting, web design and yearbook.
Brody, the senior national correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network's CBN News, is a regular guest commentator on NBC, CNN and other television networks. His political blog, The Brody File, has been featured in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post.
“If we can go ahead and say intelligent things on the air in a mainstream media network, then maybe they’ll listen to our Jesus talk as well,” Brody said. “And you never know how that’s subconsciously going through, but I can tell you that you definitely get witnessing opportunities to shine your light in the mainstream media world.”
Even in the midst of covering the 2008 presidential campaign, Brody’s journalistic excellence opened doors to talk about salvation in Christ, he said. After discussing Barack Obama’s faith recently, a CNN anchor asked him whether Jesus really changes lives.
In another instance, Brody wrote a blog entry on Todd Palin, the husband of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. He discussed Todd Palin’s DUI conviction 22 years ago and in the process mentioned the Christian concepts of grace and redemption.
“The blog that I write is viewed by the mainstream networks, and it’s an opportunity at that point to really talk to people about what it means to be saved and grace and redemption of Jesus Christ,” he said. “I do that quite a bit on my blog. You don’t hammer them over the head with it, but at the same time you don’t want to miss opportunities either.”
In addition to articulating a Christian worldview in their work, Christian journalists also must rely on God to sustain them and guide them, Brody said. He told how God has worked through prayer many times to land interviews and work out challenging details.
During the 2008 primary season, Brody worked for an entire year to get an interview with Hillary Clinton. The night before the scheduled interview, it was still uncertain whether Clinton would come, he said. But his producer spent an hour and a half in prayer, and Clinton showed up at the appointed time.
Prayer plays a major role when Brody appears on television, he said, telling students how he prays before going on the air.
“I’m not the most articulate guy in the world, but when I get on the air, by the grace of God, He’s able to allow me to go ahead and really just express what needs to be said,” Brody said. “But it doesn’t happen because I just go up and do it. It happens because I pray about it first.”
Sometimes Brody has been in a hurry before going on the air and failed to pray. On those occasions, God reminded him that no journalism can be successful without divine enabling, he said.
“There were a few times where I was in a rush and I did not pray,” he said. “I just did not pray. And I fumbled my words, I jumbled everything on the air, and I was like, ‘OK God, You’re telling me something.’”
Successful journalism involves more than just prayer though, Brody said. Hard work and aggression are essential components as well, he said.
“Go after it hard,” he said. “Be very, very aggressive. I can’t tell you this enough. ... You need to make multiple phone calls a day to get your source to talk. You need to make sure that you are constantly really going after the story. Don’t ever let up.”
Brody has interviewed Obama four times, he said, but it took many conversations and lunch appointments with Obama’s staff to convince them he would benefit from appearing on CBN. Before each meeting, Brody worked hard to gather facts in support of his arguments, he said.
Another part of working hard in journalism is gaining a broad knowledge of many subjects and bringing that knowledge to bear upon some niche in life, he said.
“Make sure you really find your niche, and make sure you know what you are passionate about,” he said.
By combining reliance on God and hard work, Christian journalists have an opportunity to change the world, Brody said. He noted that Christian journalists should never feel alone in their work because God is at work all around them.
“Remember that God is involved in everything we do at all times,” he said. “Hopefully you can all remember that.”
David Roach is pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Shelbyville, Ky., and a Ph.D. candidate at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville.