A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast

Episode 28: Fortnite and MLK?, Bible Movies & Best Media Practices

September 09, 2021 Simon Doong and Lee Catoe Season 1 Episode 28
A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast
Episode 28: Fortnite and MLK?, Bible Movies & Best Media Practices
Show Notes Transcript

Questions for the Week:

  • Recently, it was announced that the popular video game Fortnite would provide an opportunity for players to relive Martin Luther King Jr.'s iconic "I Have a Dream" speech. I don't know how to feel about this. There is a lot of skepticism and questions surrounding this decision. What are your thoughts? Is this honoring Dr. King's work and legacy? Or is it appropriation?
  • There are multiple film and Hollywood adaptations of Biblical stories. Do you have any that you recommend and why?

Special Guest:
Rich Copley, Communications Strategist, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Guest Question:
In a time of polarization and heavy digital/social media use, there is a lot of "fake news" and "clickbait" headlines. How do we, as people of faith, who are called to seek truth, distinguish real news from fake news, fact from opinion, and good journalism from bad? I think good reporting/journalism will report facts accurately but is allowed to provide discussion to encourage readers to walk away with a lesson from the story or consider the story from a new perspective. But some reporting doesn't even seem to establish facts before forcing an opinion down the reader's throat. What are your thoughts? How do we be informed readers/consumers of news and journalism? |

Resource Roundup:
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Relief Efforts in Haiti
Rev. Edwin González-Castillo, Associate for Disaster Response in Latin America & the Caribbean, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

00:03 – Simon Doong

Hello, and welcome to a matter of faith a presby podcast, the podcast where we respond to your questions and comments on issues of faith, social justice, and church life. Don't be afraid to write in and ask your question. Because if it matters to you, it matters to us. And it just might be a matter of faith,


00:21 – Lee Catoe

Whether it be faith in God, faith and others or faith in yourself. We are brought to you by the Presbyterian peacemaking program and unfound, the interactive journal on Christian social justice for the Presbyterian Church USA. I am your host, Lee Catoe.


00:38 – Simon Doong

and I'm your host Simon Doong.


00:41 – Lee Catoe

Without further ado, let's dive into today's questions.


00:46 – Simon Doong

Well, hello, everyone. Welcome back to a matter of faith presby podcast and we are here bringing you great questions, hopefully good responses and some fun faith conversation. Lee, how are you doing? I know, last week was the week of action for the Presbyterian Church, USA, I hope folks were able to catch some of the discussions that happened during that week that you were a part of putting together.


01:13 – Lee Catoe

Yeah, it was it was a very busy week. And it was honestly very tiring. But everything just everything was good. And yeah, if you missed it, or if you want to catch up about what happened with a week of action, you can still go to the website Pc usa.org slash week of action. And you can also go to the Presbyterian Church, USA Facebook page, just search it. And then look under the videos. And there you'll find everything we did, and there was a lot. So if you want to catch up with that, just check that out. But yeah, it was it was a lot, but I think it was good. And yeah, just recovering. I think that's what we have to do. Remember, we emphasize rest and recovery on this podcast as a practice of well being. And health. Yeah, so remember, folks, we have a long week, you have a long day. Even if sometimes you just have a long meeting. Take five and come back. We got to know. Yeah, chill out. Maybe go for a walk. Listen to a matter of faith at Prezi podcast while you're walking, you know,


02:27 – Lee Catoe

Subscribe, leave us a review. do all those things. Yeah, think of questions to ask us. That's very helpful. Yeah. Do you have time to chill? But yeah, I do. Do reiterate specifically like you know, it's summer is about to get and and a lot of people's lives get very busy during the fall and all this other kind of stuff. And yeah, Advent is coming up and all this other kind of stuff. So I highly recommend Yeah, getting some rest and, and that's okay to say no. It's okay to say no, sometimes. So,


03:03 – Simon Doong

It’s always good to say no, and just set some boundaries. And even if it feels a bit awkward, you know, it's okay. Now. And speaking of awkward or questionable,


03:18 – Lee Catoe

I knew I knew that's what you're gonna say.


03:21 – Simon Doong

We have a question written in today that is about a decision that was made that is kind of questionable. So the question reads, “recently, it was announced that the popular video game fortnight would provide an opportunity for players to relive Martin Luther King Junior's iconic, I Have a Dream speech. I don't know how to feel about this. There is a lot of skepticism surrounding this decision. What are your thoughts? Is this honoring Dr. King's work and legacy? Or is it appropriation?” What do you think Lee?


03:58 – Lee Catoe

Well, I'll be the first to say I'm not very knowledgeable of video games. The only knowledge that I have a fortnight is because of my nephew. And so yeah, so I don't know the ins and outs. And and you and I both kind of read up on this, that there's going to be there's going to be kind of these ins and outs of like how to interact with the speech and all this other kind of stuff. But also knowing that you know, Martin Luther King Junior's daughter has made a statement and a few of the institutions that have come out of his legacy of made statements that you know, this is not something that like we didn't kind of do this this is like this is off on the company that produces fortnight or creates fortnight and I do think it's weird. That and I will say the executive director of or whatever there, whatever he's called, of the company that has created fortnight. It is a white man and The video industry is pretty predominantly probably created by white people. And so I do think it is very weird that an on obviously this will be money will be made from this. And where is that money going? What is that money being done with like I do you think there is something to be said about how to introduce to a whole different space and audience, the speech and the work of Martin Luther King Jr. But I wonder where the motivation is when it comes to something so like capitalistic in nature, which is something that MLK spoke out a lot against MLK, really focused on economics and economy and class, of course, as well as like racism, and white supremacy. But that was one of the central idea of like, his, his movement was talking about economy. And so yeah, I think it I think it kind of I don't, I think it is very contradictory. Down to the core of what we're talking about to kind of, you know, they'll let in this up, we're gonna introduce this speech and like, have an education moment, but under the underneath what is happening and, and how, what is money being made? Where is that going? All those kinds of questions I have.


06:25 – Simon Doong

Yeah, it's kind of a tricky situation. And I think when we want to think about whether anything, honors, Dr. King's work in legacy, it really depends on the specific details about how his speech and likeness are used, and then the context as you were saying, in which it's used. And just for context, for people who may not be aware about what fortnight is, fortnight is a what we would call a battle royale video game. That's its main mode. And in that particular mode, you start with a group of players, and limited resources, and you go and find resources, whether it be weapons, or whatever it is, and players fight each other until the last player standing is the winner. fortnight does this in a very cartoonish sort of art style, but it has other modes that are not focused on the actual sort of combat mechanics as a creative mode, which is where this I Have a Dream speech effort, His house is in the creative mode. And it's also sort of I think, important to note that fortnight at this point is not just a video game. It's sort of like a virtual place where people hang out and fortnight has hosted events before. Last year, there was a Travis Scott concert hosted in fortnight. This past year, relatively recently, ariana grande de hosted a concert, there have been, I think, three movies by Christopher Nolan that have had ties or appearances within fortnight. And so fortnight itself now is like a platform, not just a video game, which people are allowed to have different feelings about that and how that platform is used, and rightly so. But just to give people some context about what fortnight is, in terms of this actual event, this this is a from the sort of press release about this, I Have a Dream speech event. For fortnight. This virtual experience is called march through time and is a collaboration between fortnight and time studios, the film and television television division of Time Magazine, it recreates the Lincoln Memorial and National Mall where King gave his famous speech in 1963. In a virtual world that fortnight maker Epic Games describes as a reimagined washington dc called dc 63. And so players are able to just sort of be in this in this space. And there are 10 mini games within march through time, which are all designed around the idea that quote, we move forward when we work together. And so for players who complete this event and complete those 10 mini games and you know, sit there and watch the speech, they get some special special in game sort of item. They'll also get some different little emotes, which are greetings or gestures that you can give to other players in game including a thumbs up or rainbow and a protest sign. So that's not that bad at all things considered. Doctor I will also note Dr. King is not a playable character. But even so I think that this is still it is still kind of weird because fortnight itself originally did start as this Battle Royale game. And it does seem a bit odd to have a to use a speech that is about friend who is frankly, from Dr. King, which is frankly about non violence in a game that originally started oriented around a theme of violence albeit very stylized, very cartoonish. No blood very, it sounds weird to say kid appropriate, but very PG will just say, it's also a little strange, because there's videos on YouTube of people standing there in the virtual, virtually created dc 63. And Dr. King's speech is playing, and someone has their character doing what is called the fortnight dance. So their character is dancing in front of Dr. King while he's delivering his speech. I don't know how I feel about that, either. I think that that's it that gave me some feelings. And I'm not sure that that's exactly appropriate, either. So I think when we take this in sort of the grand scheme of things, I understand the idea and intent of using a creative platform to try to make something more interactive, especially if that's where the kids are, bring them history, bring the issues to them. Yes. I don't know if this was the appropriate speech or figure to bring into fortnight at this time. And I have a few questions about the implementation, even if at the end of the day, it's not offensive, it's still questionable, if that makes sense.


11:35 – Lee Catoe

And it's all about like, how do you like who was asked? Apparently, the family was not asked or like, who was who is partnering in this with fortnight, you know, like, what is the representation? Is there a diverse group of people doing, like the planning, and I do think I know, if you're listening, you might think this is kind of like a silly thing. But I do think this is, in some ways, a trend that we're seeing. And I think it is very, a very serious topic to talk about, because the ways in which we do use media, and no matter what kind of form it is, and in many ways, the video game industry is not tapped into a lot to actually educate. And to actually, you know, figure out creative ways to, to talk about justice issues and things like that, I find that very interesting. And I feel like that's something we don't talk about at all. And so that is one thing to pull out from this as people of faith and the church. Yes, this might be silly. And I know this kinds of stuff isn't taken seriously within the church in some ways. But this is what young people are doing. And this is what young people are interested in. But as anything that makes money that as anything that is within media, there is a line of how are we equitable and the creation of anything that is creative? And yeah, it just seems like count, it just seems like counter to what MLK was talking about to have it on this platform, to not have it in some way built from the bottom up that I think if that were to happen, if there was like a, you know, like at MLK, some sort of video game created by you know, a diversity of voices produced by people of color. And it was, you know, in that realm that is different, and where that money is going to, like what and all that stuff was thought about, I think that is very different than this. And so I do think if we're if I mean, we are podcast that is speaking to the church, I think this is a very relevant conversation to be having within churches right now, because we are playing with technology more, but how do we go further? And, and, and challenge some things within technology, but also be creative in it? And ask those questions that, you know, we are always asking when it comes to justice issues. And so I think even seeing this really, really gets my mind going, but yeah, they're I feel like this is kind of a surface level way of doing this instead of an integrated way of how do we equitably? You know, do justice work in these realms? This is this example is very surface level. And they many times I've seen churches be very surface level in it. Whereas, you know, it's not thought of like from the creation from like the bottom up. And so I think, I think if we read more into this, and I hope people will read these articles about it. And if you're in the church, that think about how are we being creative equitably? And to further justice work that isn't surface level. Like I think this is


15:00 – Simon Doong

Yeah. And I think and I could be wrong, I have to do more research, I think I did hear that Epic Games did. And when their partnership with time studios may have intentionally hired a lot of black and African American developers to do this particular project, but even so it doesn't change, it doesn't change the overall structure of a major corporation in a major company. And true that it is true that fortnight is a free to play game, but there is still money to be made in a variety of ways, even if it's not directly from this, from this particular project, or this particular event. And I think that that's something important to keep in mind. And I really appreciate what you said about, you know, churches, also at times, making surface level sort of gestures in the name of justice or inclusivity. Because I think on the, on the one hand, we also have churches who maybe say, Hey, we talked about the I Have a Dream speech, and then that's where the conversation about racism and, and equity ends?


16:12 – Lee Catoe

Yeah, yeah, we do that on technology, it's easy to be surface level on technology, because whatever you put out there, it's kind of a product. And whatever you put out there, that is what you get with in certain ways, it takes a lot to unpack the back end of doing something specifically video games, where there is like a very nice group of people that that is what they do. And so I think it's very hard for like the general public or anybody to really fit to really kind of deconstruct what is happening in the background, when it is kind of a product of something it takes, it just takes a lot more, if you're not in it to really figure out what is what is going on, kind of behind the scenes. And so I think we have to be very careful. And I think we have to kind of resist this idea of, Oh, this looks good out there. And this is this is the kind of, you know, this is the kind of persona we want to like, put out into the world. But what is happening behind and what is happening within the creation, that's where we've gotten into big problems is that there might be diversity on the screen. There might be diversity, you know, within language, but what is happening in the background, what are we doing fully and intentionally behind the scenes to, to create something, and for me, that is the one of the biggest, you know, things that we have to think about, because whatever you're creating, there's going to be also with aura around that, like, there's going to be a spirit around that. And that is where you get, you know, the idea of full inclusive participation. are we listening to the voices that we need to listen to? Those kinds of things? So yeah, I think this is very thought provoking. For you fortnight players out there, I've only played Animal Crossing Simon so that's very different.


18:28 – Simon Doong

Oh, very different. But you know, to each their own everyone's got got their own game or if it's not a game, you know, when other type of create creative or entertainment medium that they like to like to relax or with or dive into.


18:44 – Lee Catoe

I like a Mario Golf, Animal Crossing. These are more like, wholesome, you know, things.


18:51 – Simon Doong

I don't know, not to get us into another topic. But I will say playing that market in Animal Crossing in order to what is it? Not the mushrooms.


19:04 – Lee Catoe

There's a lot of acorns and all kinds of things.


19:07 –Simon Doong

Yeah, but there's a there's a market. I mean, also, there's the fact that Animal Crossing is about being in debt. And that's how the game starts.


19:15 – Lee Catoe

Animal Crossing is also about colonization. If we think about it, we're taking over like you're taking over an island, you're taken over and literally, your job is to cut down trees and build and bring people to something that isn't yours. So that might be another question too, for another day. So Animal Crossing Is that too? Just putting that out there? All right. I think I'm I think I'm done talking about video games. So are you ready to Simon's laughing Are you ready to move on to our next question, because we're kind of in like the media. This is more Hollywood though. But are you ready, Simon? Yep. Okay. So our next question that we got This is this is a great question. “There are multiple film and Hollywood adaptations of biblical stories. Do you have any that you recommend and why”. Simon we’ll start with you?


20:14 – Simon Doong

So I'm I actually really struggled with this. When I first read this question I was thinking about, okay, what movies based on biblical stories do or have I enjoyed. And I just started making a list of the movies based on biblical stories that I know I've either seen or am aware of. So I'm just going to list those first, because I think that this is an interesting list for especially folks who are familiar with these films, Passion of the Christ Jesus Christ Superstar, which is also I mean, it's not just a movie, the 10 commandments, the Nativity story, the Prince of Egypt, Joseph, King of dreams, and Jonah a veggietales. Movie. 


21:01 – Lee Catoe

And interesting thing, I think you took all mine. Oh, sorry. Well, well, no, go ahead. W’ell expand on them. Yeah, well,


21:07 – Simon Doong

I and none of these, I would say the only one, the only couple of these that I enjoyed, are the Prince of Egypt, Joseph king of dreams, and Jonah, a veggietales movie because I watched them when I was young. Like I have a fondness for the Prince of Egypt, especially. But I think the reason that I haven't actually sort of done a deep dive into Hollywood adaptations of biblical stories is often because they weren't appealing to me, especially when I was younger, they were often very, very, very serious, unless they were in animated form. And I particularly remember when the Passion of the Christ came out and what I think was 2000 2004, maybe sometime in the early 2000s.


21:49 – Lee Catoe

Yeah, yeah. Something like that. Yeah, I remember seeing that one and in theaters and continue just scared scared me.


21:58 – Simon Doong

Exactly. No, I just I saw it was a it was a movie, a christian movie rated R with a ton of blood. And I was like, I don't need to see that. That sounds like it will give me nightmares.


22:11 – Lee Catoe

Yeah, it did give me nightmares. Yeah, yeah. So that's not. And so I can't recommend the Passion of the Christ, because I haven't seen it because I still don't even like watching the trailers. But that's just me. I don'trecommend it. So we'll just Yeah, don't watch that.


22:27 – Simon Doong

Yeah. But I would recommend the Prince of Egypt in and again, similar to our response to the previous question, as an interesting, artistic sort of creative endeavor, to try to portray a biblical story. You may not like the music, you may not like the songs, you may not agree with the way the story is told. But that's going to happen in adaptations of anything. But I do think that that was an interesting way to try to put a biblical story more out into the main stream. And I guess it also helps that because it is the story of Moses, it's a little more even though we know him from we know the story of Moses through the Bible, but Moses has a place in, in the wider What is it the Abrahamic faiths, for lack of a better word. So maybe there was just broader appeal there in general?


23:21 – Lee Catoe

Yeah. Prince of Egypt is one of mine, too. And for all the reasons that you said, but also within the Prince of Egypt. If you notice, this doesn't happen a lot when we're talking about Jesus is that our movies that depict Jesus is that maybe jesus christ superstar, but there was kind of a comedic element within the Prince of Egypt, this whale and also that Joseph movie you're talking about? Because it was animated. But there was like, there was some comedic things within it. And so there was a there was a rooted seriousness in it and the Prince of Egypt, but there was also moments where you, you didn't take it too seriously at that moment. And I often think of I often think that when we think about the Bible, and a lot of depictions of it, and adaptations, it's always so so serious, when there are so much there's so much humor in the Bible, not just in like the Old Testament, but also in the New Testament. Like there are places where it's meant to be funny. It's meant to be, you know, the writers wrote this to to be kind of theatrical because people couldn't read and sometimes these things were acted out and there was a lot of comedy, there's a lot of comedy and actual, like, that's just that's just how the writers were to kind of get people's you know, attention and like funny things happen in ministry. Just does. And so that's one of the reasons why I like Prince of Egypt, is because there is comedy. Also, I love the music is wonderful and mean Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, when do you believe was like one of the biggest songs like of that, I mean, still a huge song. But at the time, it was huge. I mean, it was sung at my brother's graduation. Like, that's when it was so big. Because it was very inspirational. And, and like, there was this whole, like, dynamic of like Mariah and Kate Burma, Mariah Whitney, like, the media made up that they didn't like each other. And it was like a showing that they got along, there was a lot of things happening there. And yeah, some of the stories, some of that was probably, I mean, not accurate. But I do think that it, it was one of the few times where the characters were characters of color, and that matched where they were in, in their space. And that's another reason about these Hollywood depictions is a lot of white people. I mean, they they did a NOAA movie with Russell Crowe, and also terrifying. And but also, that part kind of told a story of some things that were in like the Apocrypha, which are the books of the Bible that didn't make it into the canon. They elaborate on some of that, which I thought was kind of cool. But the fact of it is, like many of the biblical depictions in Hollywood are a lot of the characters are played by white people, when many of these people in the Bible are people who are in the Middle East. Yeah. So I think that I don't necessarily know if I would recommend any of them. Because of all that, like, I probably would recommend the Prince of Egypt because it is such a great story. I've seen the 10 commandments, but only because of nostalgia, we would always watch it. Hold on where did it come out? It came on every Easter, right?


26:52 – Simon Doong

Yeah, and I'm pretty sure the 10 commandments came out in 1956, I think yeah.


26:58 – Lee Catoe

So I didn't Passover, and like all those kind of thing. Oh, my gosh, so long. And we would watch it and it was like a, it was like a cinematic feat of its time. You know, so yeah, I kind of have this weird thing about, yeah, Hollywood, Bible movies, because they're just so they're either horrific. Or just not within the makeup of the characters are not accurate. And it's in many ways as racist to kind of to do that. So but Prince of Egypt might be my number one.


27:45 – Simon Doong

Yeah, I mean, it's it is a classic. And there's also an interesting element about just yeah, who we choose to portray these characters. And I love that you mentioned that. Like, even in the New Testament, some of those stories are pretty funny. My young adult Bible study right now we're reading through the book of Mark. And Mark is a book that was traditionally orally told, that's how those stories were passed down. And so it has this element of like, oh, it would lend itself very well to a play or to sort of being acted out. We also have found in reading through the book of Mark the number of times you're where we encounter, what we have termed sassy Jesus, which some people may not like, but yeah, Jesus expressing like, some attitude. And sometimes it's pretty funny, though, and, but a lot of times in film or Hollywood adaptations, we don't see that element we see it as again, this very serious, or, like, dire, sort of plotline and dialogue, when even the Bible itself is not entirely just dire and serious.


29:05 – Lee Catoe

Yeah, we've just made it like, we just made it that way. Cuz it's like, sacred means serious, you know. I mean, there's a naked like, in the book of Mark, there is a man. Whenever Jesus is arrested, runs, and his like, cloak falls off for some and he's naked. And he's just like, running naked, like trying to get away, which is both sad that they're running away from Jesus. But also, there's a level of comedy in the book of acts like Peter is arrested and is made to sleep in between the guards and, and there's a part where like, an angel comes and helps him out. And like these guards get really confused. And so it is kind of this like, funny, physical comedy, too. And so I do think that like, yeah, Hollywood, like I think y'all need to Like, what would it look like if you just made a movie with what the word say? and just see what, see what it was like. Because a lot of these is dramatic, a lot of this is adding on to, you know, like, the Passion of the Christ. Wait, I mean, we don't know the violence that Jesus ended in, like, we don't know, the level of violence that happened. We don't know that. And but but what the way in which it was portrayed, and the way that theology has often portray is that this violence and this light, and blood and flesh and like that is attached to that violence has been elevated over, you know, in that movie, Jesus was resurrected. That was the and and all we saw was like the sun coming up and like Jesus's face, and and so the resurrection is discount, like it got maybe five seconds. And that is what we Christians like hold on to is that life overcomes death. And Jesus did things after he was he was resurrected. Jesus did so many things. And we don't have movies about that. We have movies that just glorify gory Enos, and violence and horror that also plays into our theology a lot. And I think that is dangerous. When that's just kind of, you know, that is so like, elevated. And I see that play out. And this the dialogue that like, we can overcome whatever I've heard it with, like anti vaccine rhetoric, like we can overcome because God overcame this and like, or like, we're like suffering because of certain things. And so violence like this kind of like weird, like, yeah, like horrific things are just seeing this so sacred. When in many movies, we don't get the after the resurrection story. And yeah, that to me is problematic.


32:06 – Simon Doong

Yeah, yeah. And I also appreciate what you said earlier about the the representation and the fact that not Jesus wasn't a white man. And we need to, we need to remember that in the same way that it is exciting to see superheroes portrayed by people of color. And to remember, and to see that we have that representation, we need to see more accurate representation of what Jesus really looked like, which is not a white guy. There was a movie that came out, I think, in 2015, called last days in the desert, which starred Ewan McGregor. And it's interesting because it's about the Temptation of Christ. And Ewan McGregor plays both Satan and Jesus has an interesting take. It's an interesting decision. I didn't watch it, because I still don't know how much I want to support with my money, more portrayals of a white man playing Jesus. Right, though it is interesting, because by that same token, a white man is also playing Satan, which I think is also an interesting, which is also interesting. As interesting. It is. So it is an interesting choice to have the same actor play both both of those characters. But yeah, I still haven't seen it because I'm still like, not quite sure how I, how I feel about just seeing it. You know, even though I love Ewan McGregor as an actor to see another, you know, white guy up there being Jesus.


33:42 – Lee Catoe

Yeah, so y'all, if you're screenwriters, that's what we need. We need good screenwriters and writers to make better or just maybe leave it alone? I don't know. I don't know. Yeah. I do think it does help having representation within Jesus's embodiment. So yeah, no more white Jesus's and no more like hockey, hockey, muscular Jesus's either. That's what I would say.


34:13 – Simo Doong

Yeah, Jesus doesn't need to look like a superhero. 


34:17 – Lee Catoe

Yeah, and even, we might have to edit this out. This might be extra. But what will and I just went to the National Art Gallery Museum, where there's exhibitions of like religious art in Italy, like medieval times. And Jesus is I don't, I'm not sure where the transition happened. I think it was like Renaissance time, where Jesus kind of started becoming muscular ish. A Jesus was like, portrayed as like, softer, and I'm not going to put masculine or feminine feminine terms to it because we're trying to break that banner. But it's like, you know, is not defined as them musculature is not there, is softer, is more androgynous. And then throughout time became more by narrowly defined as masculine and muscular. So just throwing that out there, everyone don't and after you can go see it, go to DC.


35:26 – Lee Catoe

So joining us today as our very special guest is Rich Copley, who is the communication strategist for the Presbyterian mission agency. Rich, we are so great to have not only a fan of this podcast, but also a colleague on with us. So welcome. Welcome, rich,


35:45 – Rich Copley

longtime listener. First time caller. Yes. Thank you.


35:49 – Simon Doong

Well, rich, we've got a question that kind of sits in your wheelhouse for today. The question reads, “in a time of polarization and heavy digital slash social media use, there's a lot of fake news and clickbait headlines. How do we, as people of faith, who are called to seek truth, distinguish real news from fake news? fact from opinion and good journalism from bad? I think good reporting slash journalism will report facts accurately, but is allowed to provide discussion to encourage readers to walk away with a lesson from the story, or to consider the story from a new perspective. But some reporting doesn't even seem to establish facts before forcing an opinion down the readers throat. What are your thoughts? How do we be informed readers or consumers of news and journalism?”


36:52 -  Rich Copley

Why do I love this question? It's a pretty much a lifelong news junkie. I remember growing up when we would go on vacation, I would have to buy the local newspapers and watch the local news. And I you know, I've just always wanted to know what was going on. And, you know, then later in life, I enjoyed a 25 year career as a newspaper journalist. So yeah, question near and dear to my heart. You know, one of the things that I think brings this question up, is that the field of news outlets keeps growing, you know, certainly a lot more than the daily newspaper and network news broadcast of my childhood. And even more than, you know, 2016, just five years ago, online is added to an ever expanding and even podcast, added an expanding field of news outlets. And you know, this is important because polls show that a majority of consumers have certain outlets believe certain things like about vaccinations, or the 2020 election, based on what news outlet, they're watching, you know, some people believe one thing, and then people who watch another outlet will believe the polar opposite. And it kind of takes me back to a few years ago, there was a news aggregation site, and they were running an ad, where a guide said, I was only getting used that I liked. And I was like, what does that mean news that you like? I mean, the news isn't something they you know, there's good news. And there's bad news. And sometimes your good news, maybe the other guy's bad news, invited some birth stuff. But, you know, news isn't necessarily something that you like, per se, but I think where he was coming from was I've really come to lately embrace the philosophy that if the news you are consuming only tells you what you want to hear. And that means like, even if it's bad news to you, it's framed in a way that affirms your point of view, you probably should reevaluate where you're getting your news from. So I mean, to the question, you know, how do you how do you evaluate that things that I think are important to look for are like primary source reporting, you know, does the story contain quotes and information from the people involved in the story, and preferably, those sources are identified because that gives them credibility and accountability. And it helps you evaluate where they're coming from. I worked for most of my career for a newspaper that did not allow off the, you know, unidentified sources, we had to identify that sources that we were using in our reporting because they just felt that, you know, bringing in an unidentified source brought in a shady element to the story, or it's something that you really couldn't verify. You do see that a lot in political reporting and Washington reporting, you'll get sources say, and the problem with that is you really don't know where they're coming from, you don't know what the sources agenda is behind what they're saying. So, you know, that's, that's one of the real problems with that. I would also look for are all sides allowed an opportunity to comment on what's going on? You know, it's a fairly bringing in all voices. I don't say Do you hear diverse perspectives. When I was an intern at The Virginian pilot, I remember being sent out on a walk and talk, which was kind of like, there's an issue. And they said, it's out to get, you know, man on the street opinions, or person on the street opinions about what's going on. And, to their credit, they said, Do not come back with a bunch of white men in your block and talk, you know, you need to find a diversity of people to get different perspectives. And in a lot of reporting, I think that's very important. I would also say, you know, are the people impacted represented in the story? You know, the other thing that I think is important to look for is, are there verifiable facts in the story, you know, an event happened in action was fake. And, you know, can we pretty much, you know, establish some facts around the reporting? And, you know, these days, I think a lot of times you have to save somebody, you quote, in a story, in an effort to be fair, present something that's false, that should be stated, you know, again, back to the earlier, you know, example, if, you know, one guy says he won the election, but the certified results say opposite, that that needs to be stated. And it's the information complete and explained, are you getting the full picture? A story I saw not long ago, that kind of, you know, for the kind of illustrates this was a gentleman who died of COVID-19. And it's a fairly prominent person, I don't know if he was anti backs, but he was definitely against a lot of the regulations that were going on around COVID-19. And it did not say whether he was vaccinated or not. And I thought that was a real omission in that story. I mean, I know, it's about his passing and everything. But in this current context, I think that's an important fact that should be included. And if the reporter couldn't establish that, they should say, you know, we were not able to establish that. And then I think it is important, you know, that as the questioner, it said, the story should not tell you what to think in there. You know, there shouldn't be something guiding you toward one direction or another, I think good news reporting, is going to kind of let you evaluate it. And if you're looking at news outlets, I think long term, does the news that this source reports turned out to be true? Do they have a track record of being accurate? Are they centering reliable sources? Or are they having to correct themselves all the time, or be corrected by others? You know, and as as a journalist, that's one thing I really emphasize to people who will, who will say, you know, oh, journalists are just making stuff up and you know, things like that. I have to counter you know, a journalist who really values their reputation wants to be right, the worst thing, you know, the worst days on the job, or if you have to file a correction. And I remember waking up in the middle of the night wondering if I, you know, got something wrong or left something out of that story. You know, if you value your reputation as a journalist, you really value being right. We, we call those news bears when you would, when you would wake up and go, right, that's, that's up. So, you know, a good journal, it's those inaccuracy and open bias will wreck their credibility. Yeah, the other thing other things I think, are important to consider, like the perspective of the source, you know, where is it Bates? What's its structure, you know, is a corporate private, not for profit? Who owns it? Who does the reporting, you know, who are you hearing from? What perspectives and biases may be there? And are your new sources culturally and nationally diversified? You know, I think it's a news consumer myself, I think it's important to try it Pay attention to some sources outside of the United States, particularly when we're dealing with the world issues and, you know, more and more listening to reporters and, and voices that are, you know, not white Eurocentric, because that's the perspective on me, it's that we've been hearing for a long time. And we can see how historically that has kind of skewed the perspective. So those are a few of the things that I really look for. One other thing I would really say is, don't just get your news from your social media, news, feed kids, those are based on algorithms. And as you click on things, it's going to read what you're clicking on, and just reinforce, you know, what you're going for. I really, I tried to open up, you know, I subscribed to probably four newspapers. And I tried to open up the app and go through and see what's there first, as opposed to, you know, just letting my facebook or twitter feed be the, you know, set the agenda for my news consumption.


46:07 – Lee Catoe

Yeah, I think so I just had this conversation with a family member. And, and I think a lot of people are having this conversation with their families, because it is something that they're just like, well, this person said this, like, why would they not say like, why would they lie about it? Or I think that those kinds of those kinds of conversations are happening a lot. Like, why would and and a lot of this has to do with like, kind of the opinion, the political opinion stuff, like, on certain news outlets, we probably can't mention them. But I think that like there are a lot of like political opinion news, that is often taken as this is exactly what is happening. This is exactly what I should be listening to, and kind of clouded in misinformation sometimes. And, and I think, like, you know, as people of faith, to be a part of a faith tradition that longs to, you know, to know, truth, but also longs to like, to be a force of justice in the world and a force of, you know, kind of taking care of our bodies and our health and trying to take care of our neighbors. And I wonder, you know, like, the the news that we consume, you know, how are we filtering that through also our fate that tells us to seek truth, and to speak truth, whatever that means, but to see what is actually happening. So I think this is very helpful for people to do that practically. As people of faith and not just rely on a personality. That's what I've noticed. It's like, oh, and I do it, too. I'm not gonna lie. I do it too. I love the personalities out there. And so I think that's very important, too.


48:07 – Rich Copley

You know, and I think, you know, one thing that was really interesting, the, when I moved to Lexington, Kentucky back in 1998, the Presbyterian Church that I that I go to the editor of our paper, my boss went to our church, and we had quite a number of Presbyterians on our staff. I think our particular denomination, you know, and some other mainline denominations are really sort of attracted to journalism, because I think we are interested in truth and seeking truth. And, and, and questioning. That's kind of, I think, a characteristic of us as a denomination, and a characteristic of journalism. And so it sort of made sense that they go hand in hand. But yeah, there is, you see a lot of blurring now between opinion and news and people, not really understanding what they're hearing, and what the agendas are behind what they're hearing. And that's why I think it's really important to kind of establish some baseline sources. And I listen to plenty of opinion based programming and enjoy it. But I really tried to be aware when I'm doing that, that, that I am listening to someone with an opinion, and they're trying to drive a point of view. I'd like them to be credible. I don't really like listening to people who aren't credible, but you need to learn to differentiate between what it's an opinion and what is a fact debates news story,


49:44 – Simon Doong

not to not to take the conversation in a totally different direction. But if we think about if we think about the Bible, even we have stories about Jesus, across the same stories across multiple different books and authors with slight variations. And and variations on the story on how things happened. And to a certain extent, even that affects how we interpret the meaning of those events. So it's not that there's no, there's no room for some interpretation. But there is a need, I think, as you were saying, to think through, what are the facts, where, where's the information coming from? And then what is this person, this journalist trying to trying to impart to me, on top of that, it's an entirely opinion piece, there's fewer facts and a lot more of what the journalist wants you to take away. But if it's mostly based on on more factual things, and then Oh, hey, I had, you know, here's another way to look at this situation. That's kind of interesting. I grew up reading a lot of The Washington Post, particularly the sports section. And one of the things that I always appreciated was that they would take a story about, you know, an athlete or a team, and they would clearly spell out, you know, this athlete came from this background, and did these things. And then, you know, they would tell all the stats, but they were also able to, to, you know, it's a spin, but it's, uh, but it was clear that it was a spin about Oh, and this is an example of an underdog story. You know, this is an example of, of someone just, yeah, working really hard. And then finding success, or this is an example of someone who bided their time. And the opportune moment came and they seize, you know, they seize the moment. And that's fine. But I appreciated that often, it was very clear. Where the, like, I could say, I could see where all the facts were. And then I could see, okay, this is, this is what you want me to take away from this.


51:49 – Rich Copley

Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think, you know, say something that's kind of controversial, and journalism circles. But I don't believe in purely objective reporting, because nobody is purely objective. Everybody comes from experiences that have shaped their worldview and shaped how they're going to see it situation, I think the obligation is to be fair, but even, you know, like, you're talking about, you know, a featured story about an athlete, that's going to be formulated by the writer, and maybe in collaboration with their editor and a multimedia journalist looking at and saying, what do we think the story is here about this person? What interests about this person? And, I mean, that's the way we, you know, I approach hundreds of stories that I wrote over the years, and that, you know, I had an obligation to be fair, and to try to be as objective as possible, but it's going to come from a point of view. And, you know, the question is just what is that? That point of view, and that's why it's kind of good to know, who is reporting it? And, you know, and, and kind of where they're coming from, to an extent, but it and I think there's also the thing of being a critical reader, you talked about the Washington Post, my Google is set up to where I get Washington Post headlines that pop in, it's, it's log in, and I just saw a headline that said, it's about Corey Bush, who is a representative from from Missouri, and the headline was, Cory bush does not have to apologize or think she doesn't have to apologize for defund the police. Now, it's like, well, it's a presumption in that headline, that that she must apologize for that. So what's, what's the perception? What's the perspective that made him say, that's a headline we should put on that story? You know, what are the presumptions underlining that you can go through many news stories and, you know, find questions that can be raised like that, you know, it's reading a story about Florida in the pervasiveness of the Coronavirus, and, you know, the rising hospitalizations and everything. And they said, Well, if the economy comes that doesn't tank in the middle of this, then everything will you know, Governor desantis will probably look great. Now it's like, well, there's a bit of a presumption that we're centering the money. How about the people? You know, so it's, it's, I think it is a matter of being a discerning reader and a critical reader and what's important to you and what's reflected in what you're reading?


54:47 – Lee Catoe

Well, I really hope people listen to this because I think what we're seeing right now and what goes out there news articles which on television, I just all think is so very powerful. And it's, and it is really, it really can change people's actions and lives and relationships. I mean, we're seeing your right now. And so I hope people are very discerning about where they get their information, and how to filter through all of it out. And I hope this is very helpful for people out there and for people in the church, because we all know, we are hearing it in our churches, too. That's just how it's gonna be. And yeah, and also realizing that we are all we all come to narratives with our own perspectives and our own experiences. And I also am a full believer that there is no completely just objective retelling of a story or rehashing out of something that has happened. And so I hope everybody listens. And thank you rich for joining us. You are awesome colleague. And we are very blessed to have you as a partner in ministry and the things that you do. And thank you for being on the podcast with us. Thank you.


56:11 – Simon Doong

So we are going to transition to our resource roundup segment and we are going to be welcoming the Reverend Edwin Gonzalez-Castillo to the show and he has a regular here these days and Reverend Edwin is a colleague and works for the president disaster assistance, and he is going to talk to us about how we can be partners and be in solidarity with our siblings in Haiti. So thank you, Edwin and take it away.


56:45 - Edwin Gonzalez Castillo

I'm Reverend Edwin Gonzalez-Castillo associate for disaster response for Latin America and the Caribbean, for Presbyterian disaster assistance. In the morning of Saturday, August 14, at 829, the people of Haiti were shaken by an earthquake of 7.2 magnitude on the Richter scale. So far, official figures indicate that about 2207 people have died as a result of this disaster. It's estimated that 130,000 houses were affected or destroyed, and over 12,000 people were injured. This earthquake adds to the multiple tragic events that have affected communities on this Caribbean island, including, of course COVID-19, and the assassination of President Chanel Moyse, which intensify the political, economic and social unrest across the country. In addition to these after the earthquake in the early mornings hours of August 16. And in the midst of the earthquake, emergency, Tropical Depression, Grace brought over 15 inches of rain, bringing havoc to the same communities that were already suffering, limiting the efforts of rescue teams, as well as affecting communities that still take refuge today on their makeshift tarps, or in the open after the earthquake. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance established communications with our mission partners located in the areas impacted by the earthquake, as well as with David gerbil, who served as PDS project monitor reciting in Haiti, along with our prayers and expressions of solidarity, PDA is committed to supporting the emergency response of our mission partners. To this date, PDA has given to solidarity grants through our local partners from Dharma in a village. These two organizations are providing assistance to the affected communities in pastel and parasaur. In the Department of grants ons, and in the localities of St. Louis to suit and carry on in the sovereign departments. The second section of concrete rain in case and the most important salute by providing water, food, first aid kits, blankets, hygiene kits and tarpaulins. We know that the need in Haiti and the impacted areas must require a monumental response from the Haitian government. local organizations and siblings from all over the world. the coming weeks, months and years will require the development of short, medium and long term response projects for the reconstruction and assistance of affected families based on the assessment and knowledge of our local partners. eta will be providing support to projects that respond to the needs of our siblings in Haiti, as we have done in the past, where PDA responded to the pandemic, Hurricane Matthew, the 2010, earthquake, and other disasters, in addition to your prayers and study that you and your local congregation can support PDH response to a designated donation for Haiti. You can do this by visiting the link or by texting PVA, Haiti, to 41444 that is PAHA i ti 241444. Today, more than ever, our siblings in Haiti need our support.


1:00:55 – Simon Doong

Don't forget to leave us a review. It really helps the podcast out and maybe it could be a five star review, you know, help the podcast get a little traction and appear in people's feed so that more people can learn about it. This has been the matter of faith podcast brought to you by the Presbyterian peacemaking program and unbound. If you would like to submit a question for discussion, you can do so at faith [email protected] We look forward to hearing from you. See you next time.


1:01:28 – Lee Catoe

See you next time, y'all. Thanks, everybody, for listening to Episode 28. As a matter of faith a presby podcast, don't forget to subscribe us in your favorite podcast platform.


1:01:59 – Simon Doong

Don't forget to leave us a review. It really helps the podcast out and maybe it could be a five star review you know, help the podcast get a little traction and appear in people's feed so that more people can learn about it.


1:02:13 – Lee Catoe

And if you have a question, send those to fate podcast at peace usa.org Simon and I would love to have questions from you. So yeah, send those to fate podcast at peace usa.org we will speak to you next time.